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Art to Heart

Multiple Intelligences

"It's not how smart you are, it's how you are smart," says Howard Gardner.

Gardner, a psychologist and professor at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and a member of Harvard Project Zero, an educational research group on learning and creativity, is one of America's foremost thinkers and researchers on what constitutes intelligence.

Gardner shook up thinking in the education community with his 1983 book Frames of Mind, in which he rejected traditional thinking about intelligence as being a uniform capacity-mainly in math or language. Gardner defined intelligence as the ability to solve problems or to create an effective product or service that is valued in a culture and proposed that there are many types of intelligences, reflecting different ways of interacting with the world.

More Ways To Be Smart

Initially, Gardner proposed that there are at least seven different types of intelligences. He has since added an eighth. His theory posits that each person has all of the intelligences to some degree, but that some people are more geared to one intelligence area and that each person has a unique combination, or profile, of intelligences.

Gardner's theory challenged traditional beliefs about education. For example, it rejected the idea of short-answer tests as ways to measure intelligence and understanding. They actually measure only rote memorization. In traditional classroom practice, teachers teach the same material to everyone. Gardner's theory would require teachers to teach and assess differently based on individual intellectual strengths and weaknesses. And instead of teaching topics or "subjects," teachers would be more effective by structuring learning activities around an issue or question and then connecting subjects. Teachers would also need to develop strategies that allow for students to demonstrate multiple ways of understanding and value their uniqueness.

Having an Impact

Gardner's ideas have been widely embraced by educators, who had long recognized that students learn in different ways and show strengths in different areas. Many schools have incorporated Gardner's ideas into the way they teach. The Art to Heart series visits one school, Key Learning Community in Indianapolis, that was founded on the principles of multiple intelligences.

Gardner's Multiple Intelligences

  • Linguistic intelligence relates to spoken and written language.
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively, and think logically.
  • Musical intelligence includes skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns.
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence involves using the body or parts of the body to solve problems and refers to the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements.
  • Spatial intelligence is the ability to use the sense of sight to recognize, use, and create visual representations of objects.
  • Interpersonal intelligence is the capacity to work effectively with others.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and to appreciate one's feelings, fears, and motivations.
  • Naturalist intelligence refers to the ability to recognize, categorize, and draw upon features of the natural world.

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