Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory an exploration of what it is and how to use the theory
In this article, we will explore in a concise manner Howard Gardner’s varying approaches to the “Multiple Intelligence Theory” and their relevance to Accelerated Learning Techniques. This article aims to enlighten the readers of its practical utility for which reason it found popular acceptance with the practising educationalists especially those based in the USA. In effect, the concept and the realisation of it are discussed simultaneously. ‘We as human beings in an imperfect world constantly perform the functions of understanding and such understanding determine the good or evil of the performance of such acts’ (Howard Gardner, 1999). If this be the case, all his approaches drive one key theme, viz, that people in general and children, in particular, should be imparted the skills of ‘ Accelerated Learning Techniques’, to make the world a better place to live and such knowledge which they should acquire towards this purpose should not be confused with morality. Self-knowledge is the best knowledge to avoid the mistakes of the past and ‘Multiple Intelligence Theories’ purpose is to synthesise such self-understanding.
2.0: Brief description of important types of Gardner’s Intelligence Theory:
For those who are interested in self-learning and impart ‘Accelerated Learning Techniques’ to make their children to grow as holistic adults, it would be of help to understand different types of Gardner’s ‘Multiple Intelligence Theory’. However, by way of a general note, it may be relevant to mention that no value judgement as happiness or sadness could be attached to Intelligences, as they are emotionally neutral.
2.1: Linguistic Intelligence:
The ability to learn and the capacity to use it in the performance of day-to-day activities including in one’s profession forms the basis for ‘Linguistic Intelligence’. Children and or adults endowed with this type of intelligence use language as a means to remember information and reproduce it practically. These individuals use language, written and spoken, for the explanation of ideas and interpretation, of information, understanding the relationship between communication and meaning of words.
Individuals equipped with such type of intelligence shine in writing, legal, journalistic, speech writing, training, Teaching/Editing/Translating / Public Relations/ Media Consulting/ copy-writing TV Anchoring to name only a few. Poets fall into a higher plane of creativity in this type of intelligence.
2.2: Logical Intelligence:
Scientific temperament, the ability to detect patterns, application of logic in terms of cause and effect, performing mathematical calculations with ease and in effect looking for evidence in all the things that govern the performance of activities are the chief characteristics that are found in the individuals endowed with this intelligence. Pure Sciences, Engineering, Accountancy, Banking, and Trading are some of the professions that best fit these persons ideally. Outstanding diplomats are also found to excel in these traits as they help in negotiations. The recent advancements in Computer Technology have further brought out the importance of identifying and developing students having logical reasoning capabilities.
2.3: Kinaesthetic Intelligence:
In a symbolic manner, it can be said that for some individuals their brain works through their body parts in the carrying out of their tasks and such individuals are said to possess Kinaesthetic Intelligence. Through controlling the body movements in an agile manner, by using the hands and eyes in a skilful manner, they display their mental abilities to solve the problems. Individuals with these skills have been shining and children if properly directed would shine in sports, aesthetics, and arts and crafts and in short anything that needs the application of the movements of the body in getting a task accomplished.
2.4: Musical Intelligence:
Musical intelligence is found to run in parallel with linguistic abilities and encompasses within itself the capabilities to compose and perform musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. It is the awareness and appreciation of sound, recognition of patterns in rhythms, understanding the relationship between sound and feelings among other things that distinguish these individuals from others. Naturally successful breed of the professionals in this area is found in Musical composing and singing, Acoustic Engineering, Voice Coaching, Environmental Noise Pollution and in those who have the ability to create the right mood in recorded music that is played in telephone systems.
2.5: Interpersonal Intelligence:
These individuals excel in working with and through others. They understand the capacity, the intentions, and the motives that drive the individuals and seek to maximise it through the application of such skills. Their excellence gets demonstrated in HR, Training and Development including communications, Organizational Development including the development of leadership qualities, Education, Medical particularly caring and counselling, Training and Development including fostering teamwork, and Leading Organization including Political Governance
2.6: Intra-personal Intelligence:
If interpersonal intelligence involves the capability to understand others, intra-personal could be equated to apply the same to within oneself in understanding self to actualise the maximum in one’s own potential. It is the designing of an information system within oneself rather than others and the application of the same in the regulation of one’s life in a structured manner. In a sense, it is something which could be correlated with the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and self-actualisation model. Of late, it is linked with Emotional Intelligence. One cannot typify the areas of professions of these individuals as in whatever they do they are the leaders. Leaders possess multiple qualities and one such is their capability to self-introspect and self-actualise. Hence, this needs to be seen in the light of individual development which also embraces professional development.
2.7: Spatial Intelligence:
Such individuals interpret the meaning of images in a recognisable manner, use the patterns of wide space, and could be categorised as creators of physical things through mental mapping. They are naturally made for arts, design and crafts, inventing, fashion including costume designing, the architecture including landscaping and space consulting.
These descriptions serve the purpose of bringing out the characteristics of the types of Multiple Intelligence and they in no way mean that human beings are exclusive creatures of one or intelligence. Everybody has a composite mixture of multiple intelligences and the contribution of Howard Gardener lies in highlighting the predominant prevalence of one over the other in making a human being to realise the presence of it in him/her and utilise the same to achieve the best possible in one’s own life. In fact, Gardener felt that this belonged to the domain of Psychology though it to not make much use of it and what was the loss of this field is the gain for the Educational sector.
Howard Gardener in the words of Smith and Smith (1994) is considered as a paradigm shifter. There is growing evidence of students’ eagerly embracing one aspect or other of his theory (Multiple Intelligence Theory in the Classroom) which attests the fact that the state of concentrated mental engagement is induced if individuals do something which they like to do or good at doing when involved in tasks that require high levels of mental or physical focus.
Gardner, Howard (1999); Intelligence Re-framed, Multiple intelligences for the 21st century, New York, Basic Books
Multiple Intelligence Theory in the Class Room: backup from archive.org (original link is broken 2019) Multiple Intelligences – and accessed on 21st Jan 10. see PDF backup multiple-intelligence-in-the-classroom-clean.pdf
Smith, L.G. & Smith, J.K. (1994): Lives in Education, A narrative of people and ideas, New York, St Martin’s Press
Scherer, M (1999): The Understanding pathway; A conversation with Howard Gardner’s Educational Leadership 57(3) Available at www.georgejacobs.net/MI articles accessed on 21st Jan 10.
White J (1998): Do Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences add up? London: Institute of Education, University of London
 Detailed explanation could be found in his Book Frames of Mind, The theory of multiple intelligences, New York, Basic Books.
page reviewed March 2016, updated January 2018, updated May 2019