Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice

Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice

The most complete account of the theory and application of Multiple Intelligences available anywhereHoward Gardner's brilliant conception of individual competence, known as Multiple Intelligences theory, has changed the face of education. Tens of thousands of educators, parents, and researchers have explored the practical implications and applications of this powerful notion, t...

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Title:Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice
Author:Howard Gardner
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Edition Language:English

Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice Reviews

  • Tia

    In his book Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner refutes the claim that intelligence is a singular, one-dimensional quality that can be measured by a simple IQ test. He then presents his theory that all of us in fact have multiple intelligences—eight or nine—each of which gives us a specific area of strength or weakness, and which altogether define each person’s intelligence in and aptitude for various life skills in a unique way.

    The several intelligences that Gardner claims to have di

    In his book Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner refutes the claim that intelligence is a singular, one-dimensional quality that can be measured by a simple IQ test. He then presents his theory that all of us in fact have multiple intelligences—eight or nine—each of which gives us a specific area of strength or weakness, and which altogether define each person’s intelligence in and aptitude for various life skills in a unique way.

    The several intelligences that Gardner claims to have discovered are these: Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Spatial, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic, and possibly a ninth, Existential.

    In his book, Gardner describes each of the intelligences and his criteria for identifying and solidifying them. He spends much of his book describing how the knowledge of the multiplicity of intelligences can be beneficial to help assess and enhance individuals’ intellectual profiles, particularly in a learning or educational environment, but also in the workplace. Gardner contends that instead of using tests to rank and class intelligence, assessment should be used to identify relative strengths and weaknesses, determine what measures could be taken to improve education and performance, and assess what things are working and which are not. Intelligence assessment should be used with a view to help and aid progression, not to categorize and rank.

    I felt that one of the most significant and interesting points that Gardner makes repeatedly in his book is that in today’s commonplace educational environments, learning is decontextualized. Instead of learning about math, physics and history in context and in a way connected to application and life skills, we learn about them in only one or two ways—usually the Linguistic and Logical/Mathematical—completely apart from any situational context. Instead of using physical object lessons to teach physics, we memorize laws. Instead of using history lessons to analyze current events, we memorize names and dates. We do this because the goal of America’s public educational system is to score well on tests.

    I agree with Gardner when he says that this is not a goal worthy of our children’s intellectual potential. Our goals should be to achieve understanding, and to maximize each individual’s potential in their chosen fields and occupations. We should teach knowledge, skills and cultural literacy in context, through many different available means. He calls for a partial return of the apprenticeship model, which integrates context, application, and expert adult coaching and inspiration. He also says that we must give up some of our attempted quantity of educational material for better quality, since it has been shown that students are currently learning very little of the very much that they are taught.

    Gardner finishes by saying that we should not just try to be intelligent, or more intelligent than someone else. He suggests that we should each be the best that we can be, and use that intelligence to make individual contributions for the benefit of society.

    Very good read, highly recommended.

  • Michael Cassano

    The progressive way of teaching!

  • Billie Pritchett

    Howard Gardner's

    is a wonderful book, and an argument for the thesis that there is not just one intelligence that people possess but rather multiple intelligences. Gardner defines an intelligence as "an information-processing potential to solve problems or create products that are valued in at least one culture." Gardner stipulates that each intelligence, although mental, must be triggered by some features of the environment, and the system in the mind/brain that is to process the info

    Howard Gardner's

    is a wonderful book, and an argument for the thesis that there is not just one intelligence that people possess but rather multiple intelligences. Gardner defines an intelligence as "an information-processing potential to solve problems or create products that are valued in at least one culture." Gardner stipulates that each intelligence, although mental, must be triggered by some features of the environment, and the system in the mind/brain that is to process the information must encode the information symbolically.

    Gardner proposes that at least eight candidates for intelligence meet his criteria. They are the following: (1) logical-mathematical intelligence, the kind of intelligence involved in logical or mathematical reasoning; (2) spatial intelligence, which contributes to the way in which a person would make appropriate spatial judgments; (3) linguistic intelligence, the user of whom is marked by a facility with language; (4) musical intelligence, which involves a sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music of compositions as they're conceived holistically; (5) interpersonal intelligence, the kind of intelligence involved with effective communication abilities with other people; (6) intrapersonal intelligence, which means having a a robust understanding of oneself; (7) bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, which has to do with the skill of using one's body and body in motion to desirable ends; and (8) naturalistic intelligence, which has to do with processing information effectively as that information relates to our natural surroundings. (I won't tell you Gardner's candidate for

    ; you can read the book to catch that.)

    Gardner discusses ways in which these eight intelligences could be developed in the schools and the workplace. First, he states that education must be clear about its overall goal. He believes this goal should be "the ability of students to exhibit genuine understanding in a number of key disciplines." He writes further:

    Here is Gardner's proposed solution for the school system can get to this point:

    And here is where multiple intelligences come in.

    Gardner has some novel ideas about the way in which the school system could be restructured to accommodate this educational goal, which you can read about in the book.

    Regarding the implications of this theory for work, basically the implications amount to taking into account a person's intelligence profile, their various strengths and weaknesses regarding certain intelligences, and finding creative ways to sync them up with tasks that a given line of work and with people with whom to work. That chapter left something to be desired in the book, I must admit but I think Gardner has given folks plenty of food for thought and perhaps other people could come up with something better.

  • Carolyn moran

    this is another book I re-read quite often... everyone should know about these differing learning strengths, but there are a lot more charts and summaries online... Gardner's theories are not about brain research, but almost just observable common sense...you never know if the left brain is the right brain to be doing stuff with!!!

  • Jennifer

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Harvard scholar Gardner shows parents and teachers the multiplicity of the human mind and why our current educational model (one teaching size fits all) prevents children from utilizing their multiple intelligences is order to maximize learning. I'm super excited to read Gardner's other books now, especially

  • Mark

    As an author, I have mixed feelings about Gardner. His ideas, theories and sensitivities are top-drawer. But his writing has remained stilted and academic, for my taste, and that is off-putting when he's got so many good things to say. This one is worth rating, however, because it was truly a breakthrough book on a new way to look at intelligence -- as a collection of intelligences (including physical intelligence, for you sports fans), and it has gone on to enter the popular culture and spawn a

    As an author, I have mixed feelings about Gardner. His ideas, theories and sensitivities are top-drawer. But his writing has remained stilted and academic, for my taste, and that is off-putting when he's got so many good things to say. This one is worth rating, however, because it was truly a breakthrough book on a new way to look at intelligence -- as a collection of intelligences (including physical intelligence, for you sports fans), and it has gone on to enter the popular culture and spawn a mini-industry of educational materials and approaches. Whether his theory holds together tightly or not, he was a good antidote to the Bell Curve propogandists of the world.

  • Natasha

    Gardner presents a revolutionary educational concept in a format which is a bit dry (a.k.a. academic). But, persistance in reading the whole volume is rewarding. A major focus of Gardner’s work is to provide teaching methods tailored to meet the needs of each student.

    The first principle is to assess our students’ learning styles. Like our fingerprints, we all have a different medley of strengths and weaknesses in learning. These areas of intelligence include musical, bodily-kinesthet

    Gardner presents a revolutionary educational concept in a format which is a bit dry (a.k.a. academic). But, persistance in reading the whole volume is rewarding. A major focus of Gardner’s work is to provide teaching methods tailored to meet the needs of each student.

    The first principle is to assess our students’ learning styles. Like our fingerprints, we all have a different medley of strengths and weaknesses in learning. These areas of intelligence include musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Traditional educational methods rely on strong linguistic and logical-mathematical skills. Gardner proposes that we should “try to ensure that everyone receive an education that maximizes his or her own intellectual potential.” (p. 71)

    The next step is to design a curriculum that utilizes the strengths we assessed in our students. Gardner writes, “any concept worth teaching—can be approached in at least five different ways” (p. 203). These five approaches include:

    • narrative—-tell the story

    • logical-quantitative—-mathematical proofs, arguing pros and cons

    • foundational—-definitions and philosophical underpinnings

    • esthetic—-using senses

    • experiential—-hands-on approach

    The third principle is using community resources. Gardner expresses that viewing a master at work can be of enormous importance to a child, especially if he sees the skill uses both his areas of strength and interest. There are significant educational opportunities available within the community.

    The fourth technique is student projects. Gardner explains:

    projects can serve a number of purposes particularly well. They engage students over a significant

    period of time, spurring them to . . . revise their work, and reflect upon it; . . . they model the

    kind of useful work that is carried out . . . in the wider community; they allow students to discover

    their areas of strength . . . ; they engender a feeling of deep involvement (p. 118).

  • Starbubbles

    this book spends a great deal on what he intends to do and has done, how others interpreted his work, the unintended audience (educators), and what it all meant to him. yeah, i was looking forward to theories and new ideas about what to do with those theories. sort of lacked in that area. i guess read the original,

    if you want to understand what on earth multiple intelligences in about. good thing i knew a little about it already.

  • Alejandro Teruel

    On the one hand, the english language version of Wikipedia tends to dwell on the critiques of Multiple Intelligences Theory and rather dismissively describes it as ad hoc, lacking in empirical evidence and dependent on subjective judgement (

    , consulted February 12th 2013), going as far as to state that:

    The

    On the one hand, the english language version of Wikipedia tends to dwell on the critiques of Multiple Intelligences Theory and rather dismissively describes it as ad hoc, lacking in empirical evidence and dependent on subjective judgement (

    , consulted February 12th 2013), going as far as to state that:

    This is in marked contrast to the far more neutral entry in the spanish language entry. Clifford Morris also briefly describes and provides links to many critiques of the theory (

    ).

    On the other hand,

    placed Howard Gardner amongst the top 100 most influential public intellectuals of 2005 (

    magazine included him in its 2008 ranking) and he received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award 2011 in Social Science and 29 honorary degrees from colleges and universities for the same theory. Multiple Intelligences Theory has caused a great deal of excitement amongst members of the educational community. Even the english language entry in Wikipedia rather grudgingly admits this:

    So, to put it mildly, thirty years after it was first published in

    , the theory is still polemical and it keeps inspiring educators, schools and even educational systems around the world. Why?

    The theory obviously resonates deeply with educators and parents. For many parents, it holds out hope that their child may prove to be truly gifted, to have a superior intelligence, or cluster of intelligences, that his or her dull, uninspiring school does not appreciate or has not stimulated properly. For educators it also holds out hope that every child in his classroom can achieve great potential if only they can somehow tap into their hidden intelligences. It provides a facile explanation, or perhaps pseudo-explanation, for why Johnny is so good at drawing and so bad at spelling and why Janet has such sensitive emotional antennae but does not seem to able to add properly to save her life, but it also encourages educators to engage more, to pay more attention to each child and to encourage them, to treat them all as unique individuals and to enrich classroom sessions -all of which of course go a long way to motivating people of any age, let alone children. Many psychologists object to what they consider to be Gardner´s provocative and incorrect use of the term intelligences to refer to what they consider to be more appropriately labelled as talents. Whether considered as talents or intelligences, the hypothesis seemed to open up a vast vista of opportunities for diversity in classrooms that were stifling in the homogeneity and mechanicism that had grown up under the rule of skinnerism and an over-rated infatuation with IQ and other multiple choice tests.

    This book was written ten years after the theory appeared and is a collection of readings about the theory, about some of its potentials in education, about some pioneering schools´ adoption of the principles purportedly underlying MI and about the assessment of MI. Gardner reports on some of the school experiences which he claims validate his claims about MI, but in truth, the experiences are exploratory and methodologically flawed: sample sizes are too small, controls are improperly set up and Hawthorne type effects are not properly ruled out -on the contrary, a cynic might suggest that they are activey encouraged.

    I think Gardner´s ideas, perhaps in tandem with Daniel Goleman´s related books on emotional, social and ecological intelliences are still worth reading about but they must be read with care, understood as pleas for more engagement and sensitivity and used as a starting point for further exploration.

  • Lars Guthrie

    Working on a daily basis with children who have been diagnosed with deficits—problem learners—I’m attracted to educational theory which holds that individuals are amalgam of unique characteristics. Strengths as well as weaknesses.

    My conception of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences played into that attraction. School is in large part based on psychometrically determined intelligence quotients and the ability to apply intelligence to written language and mathematics. Str

    Working on a daily basis with children who have been diagnosed with deficits—problem learners—I’m attracted to educational theory which holds that individuals are amalgam of unique characteristics. Strengths as well as weaknesses.

    My conception of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences played into that attraction. School is in large part based on psychometrically determined intelligence quotients and the ability to apply intelligence to written language and mathematics. Stretching that view a bit might allow kids who are academically unsuccessful to see that they have capabilities that can be realized with effort, and allow society to make use of unrecognized potential.

    After reading ‘Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons,’ I find my conception was fairly accurate, but I remain confused about how to translate theory into practice. I’m also more skeptical about the theory itself, while still agreeing with Gardner that we need ‘to nurture all of the varied human intelligences.’

    It’s interesting that Gardner has been surprised by his audience. He originally formulated his theory in 1983 as ‘a psychologist who thought he was addressing his fellow psychologists.’ However, he did not find a warm welcome among his colleagues, to whom ‘Frames of Mind’ ‘seemed somewhat exotic.’ Among those whom Gardner, perhaps with a hint of derision, labels ‘psychometricians,’ ‘the book aroused antipathy.’

    However, the book was a huge hit with another constituency. ‘For reasons that I do not fully understand,’ writes a baffled Gardner, ‘the theory of multiple intelligences spoke immediately to educators—loudly and quite clearly.’

    The dichotomic reception of ‘Frames of Mind’ set off warning signals in my mind to approach the theory of multiple intelligences with caution. I came to ‘Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons’ after reading Daniel Willingham’s excellent ‘Why Don’t Students Like School?’ The cognitive psychologist’s critical view of Gardner’s work increased my wariness.

    The presentation of ‘Multiple Intelligences’ didn’t help. It’s not an updated edition of ‘Frames of Mind,’ but a poorly organized mish-mash of collected essays, some written with co-authors, and randomly ordered reflections on a theory by its creator a quarter of a century down the road.

    Readers looking for an outline of that theory need go no further in this book than its first chapter, twenty-five pages aptly titled ‘In a Nutshell.’ Or, with even more brevity, you could note that Gardner posits seven intelligences: musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, intrapersonal and interpersonal. Maybe an eighth, too—a naturalist intelligence.

    Most readers, I would think, come to this book with that outline more or less already in place.

    Gardner does contextualize his work and its effect over the years, and acknowledges an impediment to widespread acceptance of his ideas—a lack of supporting clinical evidence for multiple intelligences.

    While it’s hard to argue with his plea that ‘psychologists should spend less time ranking people and more time trying to help them,’ it leaves a question unanswered. How?

    Good teachers have long recognized that different students learn in different ways. I’m not really sure that determining which intelligences are in which classrooms will make for an improved version of tailoring instruction to varying needs and abilities, even to the moment.

    To be fair, Gardner does address the issue of application in the second part of this book where he discusses the Project Spectrum elementary school program, learning through projects, the Arts PROPEL high school program, and using broader, more inclusive forms of assessment. The problem is that the information is sketchy. Gardner repeatedly reminds readers of the positive reaction to his theory among educators, rather than tell them exactly how educators can put theory into practice.

    A chapter called “Multiple Entry Points Toward Disciplinary Understanding” offers an interesting and helpful way of framing instruction—narrational, logical, quantitative, foundational, aesthetic, experiential, or collaborative. Likewise, while considering Project Spectrum, Gardner includes a questionnaire which puts forward useful criteria for determining a child’s learning style through observation.

    But is connecting learning styles to teaching really have much to do with intelligences as separate categories? Gardner says no, that ‘style and intelligence are really fundamentally different constructs.’ Ironic, given that I found the questionnaire and entry point framework the most practical takeaway from ‘Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons.’

    Gardner tackles those ‘new horizons’ in a final section that I thought was pretty much fluff. A chapter on multiple intelligence theory and the workplace seemed downright goofy.

    The ostensible goal of this book is to re-introduce Gardner’s theory and to explain its application. It fails on both counts.

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