in progress edited by Daniel
Department of Adult Education, Community Development and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)
Dissatisfied with the views of intelligence in the field of psychology, Howard Gardner introduced the theory of multiple intelligences (MI) in his book Frames of Mind (1983). Gardner, a professor of Cognition and Education and a Co-Director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has since reflected on the theory and its impact and gone on to describe how it has evolved (Intelligence Reframed, 1999).
Rather than viewing intelligence as a “general capacity or potential which every human being possesses to a greater or lesser extent” to be measured by standardized verbal instruments, Gardner defined intelligence as “the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings. (Gardner, 1983, p. ix) It was seen as “the manifestation of engagements between two components:
(a) Individuals, who are capable of using their array of competences in various domains of knowledge; and
The societies that foster individual development through the opportunities they
(Gardner, 1993, p. 236)
Gardner proceeded to describe seven intelligences:
intelligence, for example, “involves sensitivity to spoken and written
language, the ability to learn languages and the capacity to use language to
accomplish certain goals” (Gardner, 1999, p.41) while the logical-mathematical
intelligence “involves the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out
mathematical operations…” .
(Gardner, 1999, p.42) Interestingly, in North American culture and schools,
these two intelligences have been particularly valued.
criteria for deciding on which capacities or competencies are intelligences are
- Potential isolation by brain damage.
- The existence of individuals (e.g. prodigies, idiot savants…) who possess an extreme competence.
- An identifiable core operation or set of operations dealing with specific kinds of input (e.g. the ability to imitate movement by others → bodily-kinesthetic intelligence).
- A distinctive developmental history, along with a definable set of expert “end-state” performances.
- An evolutionary history and plausibility.
- Support from experimental psychological tasks.
- Support from psychometric findings.
- Susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system (e.g. language, picturing…). (Gardner, 1983, pp. 62-66)
Reframed, Howard Gardner
modified the definition of intelligence to suggest that it is a potential (a
neural one) “that will or will not be activated, depending upon the values of
a particular culture, the opportunities available in that culture, and the
personal decisions made by individuals and/ or their families, schoolteachers,
and others.” (Gardner, 1999, p. 34) He
also raised the possibility of broadening the concept of intelligence and of the
existence of additional intelligences including a naturalistic, a spiritual, an
existential and a moral intelligence. After
considering his criteria for an intelligence, Gardner added the naturalistic as
an eighth intelligence.
publication of Frames of Mind, Gardner
has expressed concern about and addressed the many myths that have evolved
around MI theory. (Gardner, 1995). Its positive influence is evident in the
variety of approaches and investigations undertaken in education (e.g. from
Project Spectrum in early childhood to the portfolio approach in college
admissions). In elementary and
secondary schools, for instance, the theory has become a lens “designed to
extend teachers’ understanding of how students learn”. It reminds teachers
that students bring different learning strengths to a learning situation.
(Bennett and Rolheiser, 2001, p. 340). The
terms for the intelligences have been popularized to enhance communication with
students. For example, children
with interpersonal intelligence are termed ‘people-smart’; those with
intrapersonal intelligence are called ‘self-smart’.
The potential of the theory in education has very definitely been
Barrie and Rolheiser, Carol. (2001). Beyond Monet: The artful science of instructional integration.
Toronto: Bookation, Inc.
Howard. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory
of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Howard. (1993). Multiple intelligences:
The theory into practice. New York: Basic Books.
Howard. (1999). Intelligence reframed:
Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York: Basic
Howard. (1995). Reflections on MI: myths
and messages. Retrieved October 29, 2002 from http://www.byu.edu/pe/blakemore/reflections.html
Citation: Author (2002). Title. In Daniel Schugurensky (Ed.), History of Education: Selected Moments of the 20th Century [online]. Available: http://fcis.oise.utoronto.ca/~daniel_schugurensky/assignment1/ (date accessed).
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