The theory of multiple intelligence’s suggests that there are a number of distinct forms of intelligence that each individual possesses in varying degrees. Gardner proposes seven primary forms: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, body-kinesthetic, intra personal (e.g., insight, meta cognition) and interpersonal (e.g., social skills).
According to Howard Gardner, the implication of the theory is that learning/teaching should focus on the particular intelligence’s of each person. For example, if an individual has strong spatial or musical intelligence’s, they should be encouraged to develop these abilities. Gardner points out that the different intelligence’s represent not only different content domains but also learning modalities. A further implication of the theory is that assessment of abilities should measure all forms of intelligence, not just linguistic and logical-mathematical.
Gardner also emphasizes the cultural context of multiple intelligence’s. Each culture tends to emphasize particular intelligence’s.
The theory of multiple intelligence’s was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner originally proposed seven different intelligence’s to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults.
These intelligence’s are:
- Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”):
- Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
- Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
- Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
- Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
- Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
- Intra personal intelligence (“self smart”)
- Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”) – added later…
Are there additional intelligence’s?
Since Howard Gardner’s original listing of the intelligence’s in Frames of Mind (1983) there has been a great deal of discussion as to other possible candidates for inclusion (or candidates for exclusion). Subsequent research and reflection by Howard Gardner and his colleagues has looked to three particular possibilities: a naturalist intelligence, a spiritual intelligence and an existential intelligence. He has concluded that the first of these ‘merits addition to the list of the original seven intelligence’s’ .
Naturalist intelligence enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment. It ‘combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of the role that many cultures value’.
The case for inclusion of naturalist intelligence appears pretty straightforward, the position with regard to spiritual intelligence is far more complex. According to Howard Gardner there are problems, for example, around the ‘content’ of spiritual intelligence, its privileged but unsubstantiated claims with regard to truth value, ‘and the need for it to be partially identified through its effect on other people’.