Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Howard Gardner - Multiple Intelligences Theory (1943 - ?)

Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory is based on one fundamental question: What is intelligence? The theory was proposed in the context of debates about the concept of intelligence. The idea of a “general intelligence” for all human beings was created in, what Gardner called, the phychometric and behaviorist era. He challenges the idea that there is one type of intelligence.

MI theory is influenced by the phycho-analytic, cognitive and sociocultural theories since he considers both thought processes and the dynamic interaction of the developing person and its environment. He attended Harvard College where he studied under psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, sociologist David Riesman, and cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner. Gardner main perspective used eight criteria for describing something as an independent kind of intelligence:

1. Case studies of individuals exhibiting unusual talents in a given field
2. Neurological evidence for areas of the brain that are specialized for particular capacities
3. Evolutionary relevance of the various capacities;
4. Psychometric studies
5. The existence of a symbolic notation

Gardner originally identified seven core intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal (Frames of Mind 1983). He added the last two, naturalistic and existential, in his work Intelligence Reframed (1999).

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence: It is associated with well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to sounds, meanings and rhythms of words. This intelligence facilitates learning by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, and via discussion and debate.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: Logic, abstractions, inductive and deductive reasoning, and numbers are common for this type of intelligence. It is associated with reasoning capabilities, abstract pattern recognition, scientific thinking and investigation, and the ability to perform complex calculations.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: This area has to do with movement and doing. Includes abilities related to physical activities such as sports or dance and preference to activities which use movement. Physically doing something facilitates the learning process for individuals with strong Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence.

Interpersonal Intelligence: This area involves human interaction with others. Sensitivity to others' moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations, and the ability to cooperate in order to work as part of a group, is common. Learning is enhanced by working with others, discussion and debate.

Intrapersonal Intelligence: This intelligence includes introspective and self-reflective capacities. They are usually highly self-aware and capable of understanding their own emotions, goals and motivations. Learning is best when allowed to concentrate on the subject by themselves. There is often a high level of perfectionism associated with this intelligence.

Visual-Spatial Intelligence: Vision and spatial judgment are prominent in this intelligence. People with strong visual-spatial intelligence are typically very good at visualizing and mentally manipulating objects. They have a strong visual memory and are often artistically inclined.

Musical Intelligence: This area is related to rhythm, music, and hearing. Those with a high level of musical-rhythmic intelligence are more sensible to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. Learning by Lecture is best for those with strong musical intelligence. Using songs or rhythms to learn and memorize information is also common.

Naturalistic Intelligence: This area is related to nature, and the relationship with our environment. They are also good at recognizing and classifying different species. "Naturalists" learn best when the subject involves collecting and analyzing, or is closely related to something prominent in nature. It is advised that naturalistic learners would learn more through being outside or in a kinesthetic way.

Other intelligences: Spiritual, existential and moral intelligence have also been suggested and explores by Gardner.

MI theory is often criticized as it is seen by many as not indicative of intelligence but rather an interest. The fact that a standard measure for each type of intelligence has not been established makes psychometric professionals and psychologists skeptic and criticize it for not being scientific.

In regards to Education and child development the theory suggests that, rather than relying on a uniform curriculum, schools should offer "individual-centered education", with curriculum tailored to the needs of each child. Personalized education. In Gardner’s own words: “When you "teach for understanding," your students accumulate positive educational experiences and the capability for creating solutions to problems in life.”[1]
According to Gardner “the intelligences should be mobilized to help individuals learn important content and not used as a way of categorizing individuals”[2], an idea I totally agree with.

I agree with the theory. I like idea that each individual has a unique cognitive profile (which changes through time) and there is not one standard learning method that works for everybody. I also agree that each type of intelligence can be stimulated. I really like the idea that intelligences should be mobilized to help individuals learn important content and not used as a way of categorizing individuals.
I think Gardner’s theory is very relevant to childhood education. I do believe that there is need for more personalized education with a more individualistic approach. Of course, this presents a great challenge for the curriculum and the educators.

[1] Gardner, Howard. Multiple Intelligences, pp. 5, 56

[2] Gardner, Howard.

No comments:

Post a Comment