Multiple Intelligence Theory
Howard Gardner’s psychological theory about people and their different types of intelligences is briefed here.
Multiple Intelligences Theory - Which is Your Learning Style?
Multiple Intelligences is Howard Gardner’s psychological theory about people and their different types of intelligences (logical, visual, musical, etc.). There are seven Intelligences that each person has. A person may have two or more dominant intelligences, and maybe there are some individuals who have a balance of all seven intelligences.
Howard Gardner initially formulated a list of seven intelligences. His listing was provisional. The first two have been typically valued in schools; the next three are usually associated with the arts; and the final two are what Howard Gardner called 'personal intelligences’.
Types of Multiple Intelligences
Visual / Spatial Intelligence
Ability to perceive the visual. These learners tend to think in pictures and need to create vivid mental images to retain information. They enjoy looking at maps, charts, pictures, videos, and movies.
Verbal / Linguistic Intelligence
Ability to use words and language. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and are generally elegant speakers. They think in words rather than pictures.
Logical / Mathematical Intelligence
Ability to use reason, logic and numbers. These learners think conceptually in logical and numerical patterns making connections between pieces of information. Always curious about the world around them, these learners ask lots of questions and like to do experiments.
Bodily / Kinesthetic Intelligence
Ability to control body movements and handle objects skillfully. These learners express themselves through movement. They have a good sense of balance and eye-hand co-ordination. (E.g. ball play, balancing beams). Through interacting with the space around them, they are able to remember and process information.
Musical / Rhythmic Intelligence
Ability to produce and appreciate music. These musically inclined learners think in sounds, rhythms and patterns. They immediately respond to music either appreciating or criticizing what they hear. Many of these learners are extremely sensitive to environmental sounds (e.g. crickets, bells, dripping taps).
Ability to relate and understand others. These learners try to see things from other people's point of view in order to understand how they think and feel. They often have an uncanny ability to sense feelings, intentions and motivations. They are great organizers, although they sometimes resort to manipulation. Generally they try to maintain peace in group settings and encourage co-operation. They use both verbal (e.g. speaking) and non-verbal language (e.g. eye contact, body language) to open communication channels with others.
Ability to self-reflect and be aware of one's inner state of being. These learners try to understand their inner feelings, dreams, relationships with others, and strengths and weaknesses.
Since Howard Gardner's original listing of the intelligences 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 have resulted in three particular possibilities: a naturalist intelligence, a spiritual intelligence and an existential intelligence.
Use to education
Traditionally, schools have emphasized the development of logical intelligence and linguistic intelligence (mainly reading and writing). While many students function well in this environment, there are those who do not. Gardner's theory argues that students will be better served by a broader vision of education, wherein teachers use different methodologies, exercises and activities to reach all students, not just those who excel at linguistic and logical intelligence.
Benefits of using the multiple intelligences approach in your school
- You will provide opportunities for authentic learning based on your students' needs, interests and talents. The multiple intelligence classroom acts like the "real" world: the author and the illustrator of a book are equally valuable creators. Students become more active, involved learners
- Parent and community involvement in your school may increase. This happens as students demonstrate work before panels and audiences. Activities involving apprenticeship learning bring members of the community into the learning process
- Students will be able to demonstrate and share their strengths. Building strengths gives a student the motivation to be a "specialist." This can in turn lead to increased self-esteem
- When you "teach for understanding," your students accumulate positive educational experiences and the capability for creating solutions to problems in life.
Applying M.I. theory helps students learn better
Students begin to understand how they are intelligent. In Gardner's view, learning is both a social and psychological process. When students understand the balance of their own multiple intelligences they begin
- To manage their own learning
- To value their individual strengths
Teachers understand how students are intelligent as well as how intelligent they are. Knowing which students have the potential for strong interpersonal intelligence, for example, will help create opportunities where the strength can be fostered in others. However, multiple intelligence theory is not intended to provide teachers with new IQ-like labels for their students.
Students approach understanding from different angles. The problem, "What is sand?" has scientific, poetic, artistic, musical, and geographic points of entry.