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  • Howard Gardner is a developmental psychologist, the author of 25 books translated into 28 languages, and several hundred articles, best-known for this theory of multiple intelligences. He believed that the conventional concept of intelligence was too narrow and restrictive and that measures of IQ often miss out on other "intelligences" that an individual may possess.

    His 1983 book Frames of Mind outlined his theory and his eight major types of intelligence. Gardner's theory had a particular impact in the field of education where it inspired teachers and educators to explore new ways of teaching aimed at these different intelligences.

    Gardner’s Theory Of Multiple Intelligences

        The Notion Of Intelligence    

    All human beings possess all nine intelligences in varying amounts.
    Each person has a different intellectual composition.
    We can improve education by addressing the multiple intelligences of our students.
    These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together.
    These intelligences may define the human species.

    “Intelligence is the capacity to do something useful in the society in which we live. Intelligence is the ability to respond successfully to new situations and the capacity to learn from one’s past experiences.”

        Reasoning behind Gardner’s Theory    

    Individuals should be encouraged to use their preferred intelligences in learning.
    Instructional activities should appeal to different forms of intelligence.
    Assessment of learning should measure multiple forms of intelligence.

        Impact of Multiple Intelligence Theory    

    Gardner's theory has perhaps had the greatest impact within the field of education, where it has received considerable attention and use. His conceptualization of intelligence as more than a single, solitary quality has opened the doors for further research and different ways of thinking about human intelligence.
    This theory aroused and attracted the warm response from the whole world, especially in the Education and Psychology arena. Actually, no one uses just one type of intelligence, we all use several in our daily lives. Some are stronger than others for each person.

        The Current Education System    

    Dr. Howard 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 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”, having ADD (attention deficit disorder) or simply underachievers. when their unique ways of thinking and learning aren’t addressed by a heavily linguistic or logical - mathematical classroom.

        The Transformation    

    The good news is that the theory of multiple intelligence has grabbed the attention of many educators around the world, and hundreds of schools are currently using its philosophy to redesign the way it educates children.

    Multiple Intelligences Versus Learning Styles

    In his 2013 book The App Generation, Gardner and co-author Katie Davis suggest that the theory of multiple intelligences has too often been conflated with the idea of learning styles. The two are not the same, Gardner explains and uses a computer analogy to demonstrate the differences between the ideas.

    Traditional conceptions of a single intelligence suggest that the mind possesses a single, central and all-purpose "computer" suggests Gardner in his book. This computer then determines how people perform in every aspect of their lives. Gardner's conception of multiple intelligences, on the other hand, proposes that the mind possess a number of "computers" that act mostly independently of one another and contribute to different mental abilities. Gardner believes that people may have somewhere between seven and 10 distinctly different intelligences.

    Learning styles, on the other hand, relate to an individuals personality and learning preferences. The problem with the concept of learning styles, Gardner explains, is that not only are they only vaguely defined, research has found little evidence that teaching to a student's preferred style has an effect on learning outcomes.

    Gardner distinguishes between his multiple intelligences and the idea of learning styles by defining intelligences as a mental computational power in a certain area such as verbal ability or spatial intelligence. He defines learning styles as how an individual learner approaches different educational materials.


    1981, MacArthur Prize Fellowship
    1987, William James Award, American Psychological Association
    1990, University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education
    2000, John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
    2011, Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences

    Selected Publications

    (1983;2003). Frames of mind. The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
    (1999). Intelligence reframed. New York: Basic Books.
    (2000). The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts And Standardized Tests, The K-12 Education That Every Child Deserves.
        New York: Penguin Books.

    Curriculum Vitae of Dr.Howard Gardner
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  • Intra-Personal Intelligence (Self Smart)

        Possible Characteristics    

    Has the ability to do self-reflection, takes the initiative to ponder on life's major questions and problems
    Understands oneself, has strong self-awareness, particular about the important values in life that one believes in
    Able to self-regulate and plan one's life effectively
    Understand one's own strengths and weaknesses
    Prefers to be alone than to be in a group
    Strong will-power, has individualistic character
    Has high self-esteem
    Able to learn and get inspired from experiences of success & failure

        Possible Career Interest    

    Psychologists, Pastor, Professor, Novelist, Therapist, Counselor, Entrepreneur


    The Intrapersonal Intelligence is less liable to define or suggest a certain career than any of the other intelligence since the ability of self-awareness, self discipline and self improvement is applicable to any other careers as well

    Inter-Personal Intelligence (People Smart)

        Possible Characteristics    

    Able to understand other's intentions and motives
    Good at telling other people emotions and thoughts simply from observing their facial expressions
       and physical movements (Body language)
    Has the ability to work with others, likes to solve problems through teamwork.
    Able to listen well to others and put oneself in the other person's shoes to care the other person.
    Natural leader, good social skills, has good relationship with others
    Like team activities, does not like individual activities or being alone.
    When faced with problems, tends to turn to others for help instead of solving it on one's own
    Feels comfortable in crowd

        Possible Career Interest    

    Educator, Coach, Mentor, Principal, Manager, Nurse, Social Workers, Politician, Counselor, PR Executive, HR Professionals, Sales People, Event Organizer, Customer Service Manager

    Logical Intelligence (Number Smart)

        Possible Characteristics    

    Has a good concept of cause and effect about things
    Likes to find logical sequence, form and discipline in things
    Likes to play strategy games
    Likes to use mathematical and reasoning abilities
    Likes to quantify and manage information that has been collected or tends to express through numbers
    Able to remember what one has learnt through effective comprehension. analysis and summary.
    Likes mathematics, science, and computer courses more than language and history courses/programs

        Possible Career Interest    

    Scientist, Mathematician, Tax officer, Accountant, Statistician, Scientist, Judge, Actuary, Software Engineer,
    Engineer, Doctor, Economist

    Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart)

        Possible Characteristics    

    Sensitive to words.
    Good in listening, speaking, reading and writing
    Likes to use language to think, express and communicate
    Likes to read and write. Regards books as very important
    Good at remembering people names, places, dates and trivial matters

        Possible Career Interest    

    Writers, Lawyers, Journalists, Speakers, Trainers, Copy-writers, Teachers, Poets, Editors, Linguistics, Translators, PR Consultant, Media Consultants, TV & Radio Presenters, Voice - over Artists, Novelist

    Visual-Spatial Intelligence (Space Smart)

        Possible Characteristics    

    Good in drawing up plans, re-arranging objects, change of space, finding the right space and direction amidst a confusing space.    For e.g. finding the way out at cross road junctions
    Able to feel visual space accurately. Has a good grasp of directions, often able to find the way (roads) in foreign/strange places
    Likes artistic activities, has more imagination
    Likes to look at art and paintings, origami, building blocks, puzzles, maze games
    When reading, absorbs more information from pictures than words. Reading maps and diagrams are easier than reading words
    Likes to watch movies, slides, 3D animation
    Able to handle accurately and clearly when expressing visual space
    Understands interior design technical drawings

        Possible Career Interest    

    Tour guide, Interior Designer Urban Planning, Pilot, Captain, Architect, Photographer, Painter, Animator, Homepage Designer, Cartoonist, Illustrator

    Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart)

        Possible Characteristics    

    Good at using hands, feet movements and body language to express own thoughts and feelings
    Likes running, jumping, going up and down, climbing and other physical activities
    Good ideas and inspirations often pop up when walking, running or doing some physical activities.
    Good at imitating other people's behaviors and the way they talk
    Gets impatient and start wiggling or tapping/knocking on things if one stays or sits for a long time at one place
    Accustomed to do hands on work to learn new things instead of just seeing or listening
    Has good motor co-ordination and able to manipulate and control the body well
    Fond of physical contact

        Possible Career Interest    

    Actors, marital arts, Performer, Yoga Instructor, Dancer, Athlete, Sculptor, Nursing Staff, Chefs, Chiropractor, Mechanic/Technician, Demonstrators, Drivers, Sports-People, Soldiers, Fire-Fighters, Performance Artists, Ergonomists, Osteopaths, Crafts-people, Acupuncturists, Adventurers

    Musical Intelligence (Rhythm Smart)

        Possible Characteristics    

    Sensitive to pitch, tone and rhythm
    Remembers the melody of songs and likes all kinds of musical instruments
    Likes to listen to music and possesses a good sense of rhythm
    Usually caps to the beat of music sub-consciously
    Has the ability to appreciate creations, especially music creations
    Good at identifying a variety of music styles and types
    Able to accurately sing out the whole song after listening to the song just once or twice
    Likes to listen to music or hum a song while working or studying

        Possible Career Interest    

    Symphony Orchestra Conductor, Musicians, Singers, Composers, DJ's, Music, Planners, Environment and Musical Instrument Dealer, HI-FI Dealer

    Naturalistic Intelligence (Nature Smart)

        Possible Characteristics    

    Likes zoos, aquariums, farms, forests and other natural places
    Often notices the differences in the surrounding
    Good at distinguishing different things
    Likes to explore knowledge about Astronomy, the universe and Biology
    Has a keen and sharp observation of natural phenomena and scenes
    Can easily identify and classify animals and plants
    Can easily observe and detect changes in weather
    Likes to read books about animals and plants

        Possible Career Interest    

    Veterinary, Animal Scholar, Archaeologist, Plants Scholar. Chef, Courtyard Designer, Weather Researcher, Documentary Producer, Environment Researcher, Animal Protection Activist


        Possible Characteristics    

    Visual Learners uses strong visual associations. They often use lists to organize their life and their thoughts.
    When spelling, they recognize words by how they look.
    They may remember faces but forget names.
    They benefit when visual are used as a part of lecture (whiteboard, transparencies, power- point, films, videos, maps, charts,
       posters, graphs etc.
    Demonstrations by the professors are helpful, as are textbooks with pictures and diagrams.
    Strong will-power, has individualistic character
    They often have a well-developed imagination and are easily distracted by movement or action in classroom.
       However, noise will probably not distract them.
    They may not prefer to learn in study groups. Rather when studying, they tend to like to work alone in quiet room.

        Study Tips    

    Use brightly colored folders for categorizing papers or eye-catching notebooks for organizing assignments
    Take notes; make list; copy everything on the board
    Use highlighter pens to "Color code" information
    Should make flash cards or use computer to organize material that needs to be memorized into tables, charts or spreadsheets
       with graphics
    As much as possible, translate words and ideas into outlines, symbols, pictures and diagrams or summarize the information into
       key phases or sequences. Replace words with symbols or initials.
    Highlight key words or pictures on the note cards; then put the information in prominent places to review
    Read over your notes repeatedly until you "see" the notes on the page
    Reduce auditory "Clutter"

        Exam & Learning Tips    

    Practice turning your visuals back into words or write out sample exam answers, redraw your notes or study pages from memory; draw things; use diagrams; place them in highly visible places for easy reviewing

        Best Test Type    

    Diagramming, Reading Maps, essay (if you have studied using an outline), showing a process note

        Worst Test Type    

    Oral test, listen, and respond test etc.


        Possible Characteristics    

    Learn by listening to verbal instructions; remember by forming the sounds of words.
    They find it easy to remember names but forget faces.
    They often do well working out solutions or problems by taking them out.
    In most circumstances They need to hear yourself say it in order to effectively commit to memory.
    They may find themselves reading aloud instead of reading silently, talking to themselves or repeating instructions to make sure
       you understand them.
    The discussions cements the information for them.
    They are distracted by noise and often need to work where it is relatively quiet.
    However, they benefit from listening to lectures, dialogues and plays; using audio recording and videos etc.; participating in
       group discussions

        Study Tips    

    Attend classes, discussions and tutorials.
    Your notes may be poor because you prefer to listen. Expand them by talking with others and collecting notes
       from the textbook.
    Consider finding a "note-taking-study-partner" in each class who will be your back up for filling in things you missed in class.
    Put facts or dates into a song, a rap or a rhythm to aid memorization. Record class lectures
    Make your own audio recordings by reading your notes and textbook information onto a recorder. Review these record in your
       car or on a headset, whenever you can, to be ready for a test. Use recorded books whenever possible.
    When studying by yourself, read textbooks and notes out loud. Repeat facts with your eyes closed.
    Join a study group or study with a partner to review information, notes, texts etc.

        Exam & Learning Tips    

    Imagine talking with examiner, listen to your voices and write down the answers;
    Spend time in quiet places recalling the ideas
    Listen to audio CD's while exercising
    Speak your answers aloud inside your head

        Best Test Type    

    Writing responses to lectures & oral exams

        Worst Test Type    

    Reading passages and writing answer in a timed test.


        Possible Characteristics    

    Learn by becoming physically involved and actually doing something with what's being learned.
    "Hands-on" activity is needed to grasp the learning. "Being on the move" helps your memory to work.
    In the classroom, they benefit from physical activity and real-life examples.
    Using large diagrams, floor/wall puzzles and large maps on the wall or floor are helpful.
    Charades, acting, interviewing, pantomiming, skits and role playing enhance learning.
    Laboratories, fields trips, trial-error assignments and fieldwork done outside the classroom promote more interest

        Study Tips    

    Sit near front of the room and take notes throughout the class period to help you stay focused. Later on, straighten out
       incomplete sentences and spelling errors in your notes. The idea is to get down keywords and draw conclusions.
    Talk about your notes with another kinesthetic person. You will remember the "real" things that happened.
    Put plenty of examples in your summaries. Study in 20 minute time intervals, with 5-10 minute breaks.
    Use case studies and applications to help with understanding principles and abstract concepts. Pictures and photographs help to
       illustrate ideas also.
    Put your homework on a clipboard and do it "on the run". Or put test material on flashcards made out of index cards and review
       the class material while walking the stairs in the dorm/pacing in your own room.
    Use memory games. Associate some sort of bodily movement with what needs to remembered
    Learn a sequence of events, processes or procedures, make 3"x5" flashcards for each part. Arrange the cards on a table top in
       the correct order until it becomes automatic or assign sequenced information to individual steps as you walk up and down stairs.
    Test prep may include: writing practice answers/paragraphs, charades, acting, pantomiming or skits. Role-play the exam
       situation in your own room.

        Exam & Learning Tips    

    When reviewing new information, copy key points onto a chalkboard or other large writing surface
    Use the computer to organize the info into graphs, tables, spreadsheets etc.
    Practice writing answers to old exam papers, record your own CD and use them for review

        Best Test Type    

    Short definitions, fill-ins, multiple choices

        Worst Test Type    

    Long test and essays

  • Answered by Howard Gardner

    What do other scholars think of MI theory?

    Howard Gardner:

    There is a wide spectrum of opinion, both within psychology and across the biological and behavioral sciences. Those involved in standard psychometrics are almost always critical of the theory; among those psychologists who are not psychometricians, there is an openness to the expansion of the concept and measurement of intelligence. Still, psychologists like neat measures of their constructs and there is frustration that the "new" intelligences are not as readily measured as the standard ones. Also, psychologists really think of intelligence as 'scholastic capacity' while I am trying to expand the notion of intelligence to extend to all manner of human cognitive capacities.

    Scholars are not known for responding generously to new theories, and so I have not been surprised at the considerable criticism leveled at MI theory. Perhaps a more reliable index of reception is the extent to which the theory is cited in scholarly articles and textbooks.

    (Also gratifying) has been the response by scholars in the "harder" sciences (such as biology) on the one hand, and in more distant fields (such as the arts and humanities) on the other. The idea of multiple intelligences has considerable appeal across the disciplines, and my particular choice of intelligences is often endorsed.

    Do you think we should be able to freely choose what courses we take?
    Or do you favor a uniform curriculum for all students?

    Howard Gardner:

    In general at the secondary level, everyone should study some history, science, mathematics, and the arts. It is not important to me which science is taught - I am much more interested in students learning to think scientifically. Similarly, it does not matter that much which history students learn, though they certainly ought to be acquainted with their own country. What matters is that the students have some sense of how historical studies are carried out; what kinds of evidence are used; how history differs from literature on the one hand, and from science, on the other; why each generation rewrites history and there can never be a definitive history.

    You prefer depth over breadth. Do you think students might not learn enough with this approach,
    and graduate with major gaps in their knowledge?

    Howard Gardner:

    It is more important that students learn how to think like a historian, and how historians handle data and draw conclusions. This can only come from in depth study of a manageable number of topics. If the teaching of history were well coordinated throughout K-12, we could certainly learn about all the topics that you mention. The problem now is that a student might study the American Revolution four times and never learn about the French or Russian revolutions at all.

    Can you recommend techniques for teachers to identify their students' strengths?

    Howard Gardner:

    If you want to get to know your students intelligences during the first weeks of school, I have two suggestions: 1) Take them to a children's museum a few times (or some other kind of rich experience like a playground with many kinds of games) and watch them carefully. This will complement what you observe in class. 2) Give a small questionnaire about their strengths to the students themselves and their parents and, if possible, last year's teacher. To the extent that all three report the same strengths and weaknesses, you are on pretty safe ground. I don't trust self-reports unless they are corroborated.

    How could the multiple intelligences theory positively impact schools around the world?

    Howard Gardner:

    Briefly, my theory can reinforce the idea that individuals have many talents that can be of use to society; that a single measure (like a high stake test) is inappropriate for determining graduation, access to college, etc.; and that important materials can be taught in many ways, thereby activating a range of intelligences.

    How does intelligence relate to creativity?

    Howard Gardner:

    There are many forms of creativity. Domains involving characteristic combinations of intelligences also exhibit characteristic forms of creativity. So, for example, creativity in physics turns out to be quite different from creativity in poetry or politics or psychology. Generalizations about creativity are destined to be weak; the devil lies in the details about the creative domain in questions.

    One cannot be creative unless one has mastered a domain - that process can take up to ten years. Second of all, creativity probably has more to do with personality than with sheer intellectual power. Individuals who enjoy taking risks, who are not afraid of failure, who are attracted by the unknown, who are uncomfortable with the status quo are the ones who are likely to make creative discoveries. Finally, as stressed by my colleague Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, creativity should not be viewed simply as a characteristic of an individual. Rather, creativity emerges from the interaction of three entities: l) the individual, with his given talents, personality, and motivation. 2) the domain-the discipline or craft in which the individual is working 3) the field-the set of individuals and social institutions that render judgments about quality and originality.

    What about the oft-noted connection between mathematical and musical intelligences?

    Howard Gardner:

    There is no doubt that individuals who are mathematically talented often show an interest in music. I think that this linkage occurs because mathematicians are interested in patterns, and music offers itself as a goldmine of harmonic, metric, and compositional patterns. Interest, however, is not the same as skill or talent; a mathematician's interest in music does not predict that she will necessarily play well or be an acute critic of the performances of others. (However the implied link) rarely works the other way. We do not expect of randomly chosen musicians that they will be interested, let alone skilled, in mathematics. There may also be a bias in the kind of music at issue.

    Those involved in classical music are far more to be oriented toward science and mathematics than those involved jazz, rock, rap, and other popular forms. These observed correlations and lack of correlation suggests another factor at work. In certain families and perhaps also certain ethnic groups, there is a strong emphasis placed on scholastic and artistic accomplishment. Youngsters are expected to do well in school and also to perform creditably on an instrument. These twin goals yield a population with many youngsters who stand out in math and music. There may be other common underlying factors, such as willingness to drill regularly, an inclination toward precision in dealing with marks on a piece of paper, and a desire to attain high standards. One would have to sample a wide variety of skills-from being punctual to writing cogent essays-before jumping to the conclusion that a privileged connection exists between musical and mathematical intelligence.

    What happens to multiple intelligences during later life?

    Howard Gardner:

    In many ways, the multiple intelligences seem a particular gift of childhood. When we observe children, we can readily see them making use of their several intelligences. Indeed, one of the reasons for my enthusiasm about children's museums is their evident cultivation of a plethora of intelligences.

    Nowadays, the children's museum simply has a better fit with the minds of children than does the average school. It could be that multiple intelligences decline in importance as well as in visibility. But I believe that quite the opposite is true. As individuals become older, our intelligences simply become internalized. We continue to think differently from one another-indeed, differences in modes of mental representation are likely to increase throughout active life. These differences are simply less manifest to outside observers.

    Consider, for example, what happens in the average high school or college classroom. The teacher lectures, the students remain in the seats, either taking notes or looking vaguely bored. One might easily infer that actually no processing is going on, or that all the process is linguistic in nature. Individuals may also take all kinds of notes and use disparate aids to study and recall. The recesses of our mind remain private. No one can tell the mind exactly what to do. As I see it, the challenge to the mind is somehow to make sense of experience, be it experience on the street or in the classroom. The mind makes maximal uses of the resources at its disposal and those resources consist in our several intelligences.

"The True Purpose of Education is to Make Minds, Not Careers".... William Deresiewicz