The theory of multiple intelligences23 was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:
Dr. Gardner says that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We esteem the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs and others who enrich the world in which we live. Unfortunately, many children who have these gifts don’t receive much reinforcement for them in school. Many of these kids, in fact, end up being labeled “learning disabled,” “ADD (attention defi cit disorder),” or simply underachievers, when their unique ways of thinking and learning aren’t addressed by a heavily linguistic or logical-mathematical classroom. The theory of multiple intelligences proposes a major transformation in the way our schools are run. It suggests that teachers be trained to present their lessons in a wide variety of ways using music, cooperative learning, art activities, role play, multimedia, field trips, inner reflection and much more. The challenge is to get this information out to many more teachers, school administrators and others who work with children, so that each child has the opportunity to learn in ways harmonious with their unique minds (see In Their Own Way).
The theory of multiple intelligences also has strong implications for adult learning and development. The theory of multiple intelligences gives adults a whole new way to look at their lives, examining potentials that they left behind in their childhood (such as a love for art or drama) but now have the opportunity to develop through courses, hobbies, or other programs of self-development (see 7 Kinds of Smart).
For more information see:
Armstrong, Thomas. 7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Many Intelligences, New York, NY: Plume, 1993.
----. In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Personal Learning Style, New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam, 2000.
Gardner, Howard. Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century. New York, NY: Basic, 2000.
Skip footnote section
23 This information was copied, with permission, from the website of Dr. Thomas Armstrong: http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.htm