“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid’’. Albert Einstein
The multiple Intelligence Theory is just a concept and a tool that aids to understand overall personality, strengths, and preferences.
Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory was first published in 1983 in his famous book ‘Frames of Mind’. He has received honorary degrees from at least twenty foreign institutions. He has also written several books on behaviour, the human mind and learning.
The irony is that Howard Gardner who contributed much to understanding humanity was born colour-blind, myopic, cross-eyed and had difficulty in recognising faces.
The Multiple Intelligence model became popular in the educational industry and soon was established as a classical model to teach many aspects of human intelligence, behaviour, personality and learning styles.
There has been some criticism against this model because of its lack of scientific evidence. Some critics feel that it is wrong as it puts people in ‘boxes’. This is not possible as everyone is such a unique mix of various traits and capabilities. Therefore, it is important to remember not to be over-reliant on such tests, as it could prove counterproductive.
The Multiple Intelligence Theory
Gardner's theory was almost immediately embraced by teaching, training, and education communities. The model was immediately adapted as the appeal of it was almost irresistible and it soon became a classic reference learning model.
The people and project that influenced the work of Howard Gardner
Gardner was greatly influenced by Jean Piaget, the works of Alfred Binet and William Stern. In 1967, he co-founded Project Zero with Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, and philosopher Nelson Goodman. Project Zero’s ‘The project on human potential’ mighty aim was to dwell on ‘the state of scientific knowledge concerning human potential and its realization,’ seems to have been the base from which Gardner’s idea on Multiple Intelligence evolved. Gardner believes that every individual may possess all forms of intelligence, there is always one dominant trait. In his model, he has given equal importance to all types of intelligence.
The impact on education
He stated that our education system is extremely biased towards linguistic models of assessment and logical quantities as well. His work had a great impact on education, teaching methods and the way teachers conduct assessments across the world. His work on the area of learning regarding Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence influenced the physical training curriculum widely. It was reported that students showing high intelligence in physical movement benefited from learning through movement in the classroom.
Gardner wanted his theory to empower learners and opposed the idea of labelling a learner to a certain type of intelligence.
‘According to a 2006 study, each of the intelligence types proposed by Gardner has a mix of the general g factor, cognitive abilities and non-cognitive abilities or personality characteristics.’
In his original model, Gardner developed 7 Intelligence types and later added to it. Here is a grid of the original model.
The 7 Multiple Intelligence types
intelligence type capability and perception
Linguistic words and language
Logical-Mathematical logic and numbers
Musical music, sound, rhythm
Bodily-Kinesthetic body movement control
Spatial-Visual images and space
Interpersonal other people's feelings
The MI tool became a powerful force in the world because it questioned the traditional views of intelligence. But, most importantly, it gave way for other types of intelligence to come to the forefront and be acknowledged. MI tool has forced the world to accept that a person with high intelligence in music need not have a high verbal-linguistic intelligence. Yet, that person can still be termed as intelligent. The MI tool was also a ground-breaking discovery for understanding the possible methods in which children can approach learning.
If understood clearly, the concept can be applied to daily learning approaches in a child’s life thereby making a tremendous impact on personal growth and development. It is a great tool that will empower parents to make the right decisions for their children and guide them on a suitable learning journey.