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About Multiple Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences Explained

The underlying principles of our curriculum design and teacher instruction is The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, originated by Howard Gardner of Harvard University. Below is a brief explanation.

Howard Gardner takes a radically different view of intelligence. His work was prompted by a number of questions such as the following:

  • Aren’t there people who are quite clearly very good at math but not very good at language skills? If there is a general ‘G’, how can this be?
  • What about the evidence from brain-damaged patients who retain the ability to do some things extraordinarily well at the same time as losing the ability to do other things?

As a result of these and other questions about the functioning of the brain, Gardner developed his very different theory of multiple intelligences.

Gardner says that intelligence is the ‘psychological potential to solve problems or fashion products that are valued in at least one cultural context.’ (If you are shipwrecked and rescued by a South Sea Islander who guides you to a land with his or her intimate understanding of wave patterns, bird behavior and winds, then which of you are the most intelligent in that context?)

Gardner has described eight separate intelligences.

  1. Linguistic intelligence – the mastery of words and desire to explore them. Writers and poets such as Anne Tyler or Michael Rosen would be described as linguistically intelligent
  2. Logical-mathematical intelligence – finding out the relationships and principles in a series of objects and transactions. Einstein – or Ruth Lawrence – would fit the bill here
  3. Musical intelligence – a competence in performing and composing but also in listening and discerning. Beethoven, John Coltrane, and Sinead O’Connor are good examples
  4. Spatial intelligence – an ability to perceive the world and to create, transform and modify representations of it even without physical stimuli. Gary Kasparov, Norman Foster and Michelangelo would be good examples
  5. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence – the ability to skillfully control body motions and handle objects. People such as David Beckham, dancers such as Darcy Bussell and actors and surgeons are good examples
  6. Interpersonal intelligence – the ability to determine the moods, feelings and other mental states in others. The Dalai Lama and Michael Parkinson would be good examples
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence – the ability to know oneself and be at ease. Nelson Mandela exemplifies intrapersonal intelligence
  8. Naturalist intelligence – the ability to recognize and categorize natural objects. David Attenborough would be an example of someone with a naturalist intelligence