What was Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, and are there any implications for classroom teachers?
What is Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences?
According to Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple intelligences, every person has a different type of "intelligence." In 1983, the developmental psychologist Howard Gardner proposed the concept of multiple intelligences in his famous book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
According to the theory of Multiple Intelligences, old psychometric intelligence findings are too restricted. Howard Gardner suggested that there are eight intelligences with the possibility of adding more categories of intelligence, for example, "existentialist intelligence."
Howard Earl Gardner was an American developmental psychologist and a Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.
He introduced his theory of multiple intelligences in the early 80's, proposing that traditional psychometric findings of intelligence are too restricted. He suggested that there are eight intelligences instead; linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial-visual, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist—and argued that existentialist intelligence is a possible ninth form.
Other intelligences can be identified through the measurement of cognitive tasks like strategic planning or decision-making.
For example, interpersonal intelligence involves the use of cognitive skills to understand others’ thoughts and feelings, while intrapersonal intelligence means being able to externally understand one's own thoughts and feelings. Hence, many cognitive abilities may form part of a person's multiple intelligences and can aid in understanding how people are different from one another.
The theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner suggests that the learning process should be tailored to an individual's strengths in their multiple intelligences. By recognizing and developing these intelligences, individuals can enhance their ability to learn and understand information. For example, a person with strong linguistic intelligence may benefit from reading and writing exercises, while a person with strong visual-spatial intelligence may benefit from visual aids and hands-on activities. The theory of Multiple Intelligences emphasizes the importance of recognizing and valuing different types of intelligence and adapting teaching methods to meet the needs of diverse learners.
To effectively apply the theory of Multiple Intelligences in education, it's important to provide a variety of learning materials that cater to different types of intelligences. For example, for students with strong musical intelligence, incorporating music into lessons can be effective. For those with strong interpersonal intelligence, group activities and discussions can be beneficial. By providing a range of learning materials that cater to different intelligences, educators can create a more inclusive and effective learning environment for all students.
What are the different types of intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner?
Howard Gardner proposed a theory of Multiple Intelligences, which divides intelligence into seven distinct types. Each type of intelligence deals with different ways of processing and understanding information. Logical-mathematical entails the ability to recognize patterns and relationships and then apply that knowledge to solve problems.
Linguistics involves the skill of reading, writing and using language effectively. Spatial involves problem-solving through visual perception and manipulation.
Bodily-kinesthetic focuses on the coordination of one’s body movements as well as dexterity and control of objects.
Musical entails listening to music as well as making it or singing it accurately. Interpersonal entails effective communication skills with others while intrapersonal refers to self-awareness and internally driven behaviors such as motivation.
To capture the entire range of intelligence and abilities, he proposed that individuals do not just possess a single intellectual capacity but hold a large spectrum of intelligences including spatial-visual, interpersonal, linguistic intelligence and many more.
A person can be particularly strong in a single area, like music, but he is most likely to hold a wide range of other skills such as naturalistic intelligence and verbal skills.
If a person is particularly strong in visual and spatial judgment, they possess visual-spatial Intelligence. People with Visual- Spatial Intelligence enjoy reading, writing and putting puzzles together. They are good at recognizing patterns and interpreting graphs, and charts.
These people might be proficient at reading maps and directions, pictures, and charts. Their potential career choices include engineer, art and architecture.
Visual-spatial intelligence plays a major role in the way humans think and interact with their environment. People with this type of intelligence often find themselves drawn to activities that involve visual or spatial representations, such as pictographic representation of data, mental mapping, and solving puzzles.
Additionally, they may also be able to think abstractly and find patterns quickly. This type of intelligence allows us to think beyond the physical world and understand the human mind better.
Leveraging this intelligence can make learning more accessible for both primary and secondary students across various subjects. Here's a list of five ways teachers can utilize visual spatial intelligences:
1. Utilizing Graphic Organisers:
Application: Use graphic organisers to break down complex topics into visually appealing structures.
Benefit: Helps students to visually categorize information, enhancing understanding.
Example: In history lessons, a timeline can represent historical events in chronological order.
2. Creating Mind Maps:
Application: Encourage students to create mind maps to connect ideas and concepts.
Benefit: Facilitates creative thinking and helps in memory retention.
Academic Source: Study on Mind Mapping in Education.
3. Implementing Dual Coding:
Application: Combine verbal and visual information to explain concepts.
Benefit: Engages both auditory and visual senses, catering to different learning styles.
Academic Source: Research on Dual Coding Theory.
4. Incorporating Visual Aids in Lessons:
Application: Use charts, diagrams, and videos to illustrate concepts.
Benefit: Enhances comprehension by providing visual context.
5. Encouraging Visual Storytelling:
Application: Ask students to create visual stories or comics to represent ideas.
Benefit: Encourages creativity and helps in understanding abstract concepts.
In a science lesson about the water cycle, a teacher could use a graphic organiser to visually represent the stages, followed by a video demonstration. Students could then create their own mind maps to connect the concepts, applying dual coding by adding descriptive labels.
By incorporating strategies like graphic organisers, mind maps, and dual coding, teachers can tap into visual spatial intelligence to make learning more engaging and accessible. These methods cater to visual learners and can aid in the understanding of complex subjects, fostering a more inclusive learning environment.
Linguistic intelligence is the ability to use language to communicate effectively and understand abstract and complex information. It involves listening, writing, speaking, reading comprehension, vocabulary development and organizing thoughts.
People with high linguistic intelligence possess a thorough understanding of the power of words and their implications. They are articulate speakers and often have a way with words—expressing themselves in poetic or poetic-like ways.
They may be successful writers, public speakers, politicians or comedians. Linguistic intelligence can be used to gain invaluable insight into other aspects of life such as philosophy, law or science.
According to Howard Gardner's theory, people with linguistic-verbal intelligence are good at learning languages, speaking and writing. They find it easy to read, write and memorize details.
Their potential career choices include teaching, law, writing and journalism. Those with linguistic-verbal intelligence tend to remember spoken and written information very well.
Those with verbal-Linguistic Intelligence might enjoy writing and reading. They are good at delivering persuasive speeches, debating, explaining things and telling humorous stories.
This intelligence theory can be harnessed to make learning more accessible for students. Here's a list of five ways teachers can utilize linguistic verbal intelligence:
1. Storytelling and Narrative Techniques:
Application: Incorporate storytelling into lessons to explain complex concepts.
Benefit: Engages students' imagination and helps them relate to the material.
Academic Source: The Power of Storytelling in Education.
2. Encouraging Verbal Discussions and Debates:
Application: Facilitate classroom discussions and debates on various topics.
Benefit: Enhances critical thinking and verbal expression skills.
3. Utilizing Word Games and Language-Based Activities:
Application: Use word games and puzzles to reinforce vocabulary and language understanding.
Benefit: Makes learning fun and interactive, strengthening linguistic skills.
4. Incorporating Poetry and Creative Writing:
Application: Encourage students to write poems or creative pieces related to the subject matter.
Benefit: Fosters creativity and helps in understanding abstract concepts.
Academic Source: Creative Writing in Education.
5. Implementing Reading Circles and Book Clubs:
Application: Organize reading groups and book discussions within the classroom.
Benefit: Promotes reading comprehension and collaborative learning.
In a literature class, a teacher could start with storytelling to introduce a novel's theme, followed by a debate on the characters' motivations. Students could then engage in creative writing exercises, interpreting the themes in their own words, and participate in reading circles to discuss different perspectives.
By leveraging linguistic verbal intelligence, teachers can create a rich and engaging learning environment that caters to students who thrive on verbal communication. These strategies not only enhance language skills but also foster critical thinking and creativity, making learning more accessible and enjoyable across various subjects.
Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence mentioned that those with a strong logical-mathematical intelligence are proficient at analysis of problems, identifying numerical patterns and reasoning. They are also likely to think conceptually about patterns and relationships.
According to Howard Gardner, those with a strong logical-mathematical intelligence have the capability to work abstractly through problem-solving. Logical-mathematical intelligent people excel at finding sophisticated solutions and understanding complex principles.
This could be especially useful for professions that require analytical thinking, such as finance or accounting. Howard Gardner did not believe that any single intelligence was better than another, but emphasised the importance of all types of intelligence.
Potential career choices for individuals with logical-Mathematical Intelligence include accounting, engineering, computer programming, mathematician and scientist. Those with logical-mathematical intelligence are good at conducting scientific experiments and analyzing mathematical operations and problems. Since they hold exceptional problem-solving skills, they are able to think about abstract ideas and solve complex computations.
According to Howard Gardner's theory people with superior bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are more likely to be promising at performing actions, body movements and physical body control. They are more likely to have outstanding dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence can be a great asset to any person, and is a key element of human potential. Developing this intelligence potential allows individuals to express themselves in creative ways, as well as excel at activities that require intense physical effort, such as athletics or surgery. Through proper training and practice of this intelligence, one can unlock their full creative and physical potential.
Their potential career choices include actor, dancer, sculptor, surgeon, and builder. Those with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence have robust motor control and physical movements. They possess exceptional physical coordination and enjoy sports, dancing, and building things with their hands.
Those with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence have a strong awareness of their physical body parts and movement in space. They are able to visualize pictures, hold poses for long periods of time and understand how their body moves.
They prefer hands-on activities such as clay pottery and making mechanical objects as opposed to more abstract tasks. People with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence also tend to be excellent problem solvers who are quick on their feet.
Howard Gardner's theory suggests that individuals with superior levels of musical intelligence are proficient at thinking in sounds, musical patterns and rhythms.
Those with a high level of musical intelligence possess strong mental abilities. They are able to recognize pitch and tone beautifully, which makes them incredibly sensitive to the intricacies of melodies and harmonies.
Additionally, they have an exceptional memory for music and are often capable of playing instruments by ear without much practice. Lastly, those who display a higher level of musical intelligence can use their ability to create rhythmical patterns that dictate movement or manipulate moods.
They demonstrate a strong appreciation for music and are mostly good at singing or composing music. Possible career choices for those with musical intelligence include music teacher, composer and singer.
Those with musical ability enjoy playing music and singing. They have a better understanding of notes and rhythm and they can remember songs and identify musical tones and patterns.
Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and empathize with people, make connections, build relationships, and effectively communicate concepts or solutions.
It involves understanding verbal forms of communication, such as body language and tone of voice, as well as non-verbal forms of communication such as physical gesture.
It requires one to be perceptive to other's thoughts and feelings in order to create meaningful connections. Interpersonal intelligence is the key for creating healthy relationships with others and can be developed by learning to be more aware of how we come across to others and by practicing active listening skills.
People with interpersonal intelligence are proficient at building relations with and understanding others. They are good at assessing others sentiments, goals, and objectives. Their potential jobr choices include politician, salesperson, philosopher or counselor.
Their main strengths include relating to and understanding others. They are more skilled at verbal and non-verbal communication. They build positive relationships, resolve conflicts and can view situations from unique perspectives.
Naturalistic Intelligence is the eighth intelligence to the theory of Howard Gardner which has received more criticism as compared to his other seven types of proposed intelligence.
Gardner believed that people with high Naturalistic Intelligence are more in touch with nature and are frequently interested in discovering, and learning about the environment. They are highly sensitive to even minor changes to the environments.
Their potential career choices include farming, gardening, and Biologist. Those with Naturalist Intelligence like to study subjects like zoology and botany, and do not enjoy learning about subjects with no connection to nature. They enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and camping and find it easier to catalog and categorize objects.
Naturalist intelligence goes beyond the ordinary human abilities of taxonomy, comparison and observation. It also includes the more advanced abilities such as analyzing situations, using one's environment to solve problems and making finer distinctions between objects.
Those with this intelligence also possess a deeper appreciation for nature and its complexities that others without naturalist intelligence may find difficult to comprehend.
It is the ninth category of intelligence, which is an addition to the actual theory of Howrad Gardner. Those with existential human intelligence are deep thinkers of things in life and the meaning of life and how actions can serve larger objectives.
People with existential intelligence are deep thinkers who focus on the larger questions in life such as the meaning of life and how personal actions can serve larger objectives.
This type of intelligence provides individuals with a unique perspective that shapes their understanding of what is important and meaningful in life. By recognizing these theories and working with them, people with existential intelligence can develop new ideas and approaches to tackling complex questions or problems.
Their potential career choices include Pastoral counselor or philosopher. The main strengths of those with Existential Intelligence include a skill to see the big picture. They think more about future outcomes of current actions and real meaning of life and death. They tend to see things from others perspectives and show strong concern and interest for others.
What are the main criticisms of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences?
Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences has emerged from cognitive research stating that each student has a different type of mind and individual differences should be celebrated.
Therefore, each student understands, learns, performs and remembers uniquely. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is significant because it enables individuals to think about a range of abilities and mental strengths.
Although there is no Empirical Evidence to prove the effectiveness of this theory, knowing about the specific type of intelligence a person leans towards enables them to identify his preferences.
It must not be used to label a learner for having a single intelligence out of different kinds of intelligence or mixed with learning styles. Rather than matching what category one falls under, people must focus on gaining new knowledge in different ways.
Many educators work to use this theory in the classroom and implement it in their teaching philosophies. Howard Gardner's theory emphasizes that educators must not instruct the same content to every child. There is a need to instruct each student after identifying each learner’s weaknesses and strengths.
Teachers may use multiple intelligence assessments or intelligence tests to recognize each students' strong points and weaknesses. Some people try to assess children’s intelligence through test scores or grades. However, instructing them about the theory of multiple intelligences may show students that every student is intelligent in some way. This viewpoint will give them confidence and improve their motivation to learn.
Many teachers and psychologists have openly criticised Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences. According to these critics, this theory lacks Empirical Evidence and Gardner’s definition of intelligence is unnecessarily broad that merely represent people’s abilities and personality traits.
One may discover that developing an awareness of different forms of intelligence may provide them with a better knowledge of their preferences and strengths. But, many educators complain that Gardner’s perceived 21st-century learning styles have no advantage with respect to educational attainment and learning outcomes. Gardner has mentioned that different forms of intelligence must not be confused with student learning styles. Despite these criticisms, the multiple intelligences theory is notably popular among some communities of teachers.
Embracing the Theory of Multiple Intelligences in your Classroom
The following seven points offer guidance for teachers on how to integrate Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences into their classroom practice. The advice focuses on moving away from traditional teaching methods and embracing a more diverse approach to learning that caters to all students, including those with special educational needs.
- Learning Skills: Recognize that students have different learning skills and strengths according to Gardner's multiple intelligences theory. This understanding can guide the design of lessons and activities that cater to different intelligences, such as logical-mathematical, linguistic, musical, and kinesthetic.
- Content to Students: Present content to students in a variety of ways to cater to different intelligences. For example, a historical event could be taught through a written account (linguistic), a timeline (logical-mathematical), a role-play (bodily-kinesthetic), or a song (musical).
- Content Visible: Make the content visible in different ways. This could involve using visual aids for visual-spatial learners, hands-on activities for bodily-kinesthetic learners, or group discussions for interpersonal learners.
- Children for School: Prepare children for school by recognizing and nurturing their multiple intelligences. This could involve incorporating activities that develop different intelligences into the curriculum, such as music for musical learners or outdoor activities for naturalistic learners.
- Personal Intelligences: Pay attention to students' personal intelligences, such as Emotional Intelligence and interpersonal intelligence. These can be nurtured through activities that promote empathy, cooperation, and self-awareness.
- Educational Theorists: Draw on the work of educational theorists like Gardner to inform curriculum development. This can help ensure that the curriculum caters to a broad range of intelligences and learning styles.
- Motor Skills: Recognize the importance of motor skills, particularly for bodily-kinesthetic learners. Incorporate activities that involve movement, such as dance or sports, into the curriculum to cater to these learners. This can be particularly beneficial for students with special educational needs, as it provides an alternative way to access the curriculum.