Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner
‘Multiple intelligences’ is a theory first created by Howard Gardner. They describe eight different ways that people can be smart without falling into the traditional description of what people think of as smart. It is good to know what one’s own intelligences are, and to know the intelligences of one’s students in a teaching situation, because everyone learns differently.
The multiple intelligences were first described in the early 1990s by Howard Gardner, a psychologist who was interested in the ways that people learned. He noted that most traditional intelligence tests looked at visual/spatial ability, mathematical/logical ability, and verbal ability. However, Gardner was convinced that people did not have to have these abilities to be smart.
He saw that people were ‘talented’ in music, sports, or even in their ability to be reflective or relate to others. Whereas most people considered these abilities ‘extra’ or ‘talents,’ they did not consider them as intelligences. Gardner disagreed.
Gardner felt that people were considered smart in seven different ways (the eighth intelligence was added later). The original intelligences were visual/spatial, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical, bodily/kinesthetic, and linguistic. The eighth intelligence is naturalistic.
Visual/spatial intelligence deals with the ability to understand pictures and objects in two and three dimensional space. Someone with this strength is good at art, reading maps, and related visual abilities.
Logical/mathematical is about the ability to reason and work with numbers. People with this intelligence are good at math, logic puzzles, and other forms of reasoning.
Interpersonal deals with the ability to relate to others. People with this intelligence are good at making friends, winning people over (like in politics or leadership situations), and understanding others.
Intrapersonal deals with one’s ability to understand oneself. People with this ability are usually reflective and introspective, and may keep journals. They continually try to understand themselves better and to improve themselves based on their reflection.
Musical is exactly what it sounds like, the ability to understand music. These people are often musicians, and find understanding and hearing patterns in music easy, and find learning instruments easy as well. They are ‘gifted’ in the field of learning music.
Bodily/kinesthetic refers to being good at physical motion and coordination. These people are good at sports, hand-eye coordination, and other physical pursuits. They find motion easy, and may be basketball players, dancers, and gymnasts (or other athletes).
Linguistic is the ability to understand languages. These people often find it easy to learn and understand foreign languages. They also enjoy reading, writing, and relating in written fashion.
Naturalistic intelligence, which was added later, is about understanding nature. People will be interested in nature, find it easy to understand the way plants and animals live and function, and are soothed by being in nature.
All of these intelligences are equally important in Gardner’s model. Also, everyone has more than one of these intelligences and may, to some degree, have all of them. Each person has two or three real strengths; some have more or less. Some people are very strongly intelligent in only one area while others may have four or five that are all fairly strong.
Knowing what a person’s strengths are will determine how they learn. A person who is kinesthetic tends to be very hands-on, and to want to try things. A person who is musical may learn by using songs or chants. A person who is linguistic may want to read when learning. It is important to know a person’s preference for learning so that whenever possible, classroom activities can be geared towards as many students as possible.
After completing the inventory, I have discovered that I have intrapersonal strength, logical strength, interpersonal strength, and kinesthetic strength. In these areas, I scored far higher than I did in other areas. My scores were section 1-4, section 2=6 section 3=8 section 4=7 section 5=8 section 6=8 section 7=4 section 8=10 section 9=2. This analysis sheds light on my strengths and weaknesses, and I can use this knowledge to learn in the ways that make sense to me. This can also help teachers to understand their students. Multiple intelligences are a good way to assess and understand students.