Multiple Intelligence Theory by Gardner


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"The capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting", -this is how intelligence was defined by Gardner. His theory of multiple intelligence's originated from cultural as well as biological research and differed from the original view of intelligence as it took into account music, special relations and interpersonal knowledge as well as verbal and computational skills which were the main types of intelligence originally tested.

The multiple intelligence's theory suggests that there are seven different type of intelligence. These are as follows: Linguistic intelligence which involves having a high knowledge of language. This includes having the ability to manipulate language so as to express oneself poetically or rhetorically. It also shows a person to use language as a memory aid.

Musical intelligence which is expressed by a person taking in the capability to both recognize and compose musical scores. Logical-mathematical Intelligence which consists of the ability to notice patterns, reason deductively and think logically. It is mostly associated with scientific and mathematical thinking. Spatial intelligence which is seen to give a person the ability to manipulate and create mental images for problem solving. This is not just limited to visual domains though as Gardner also found this type of intelligence in blind children.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence shown as the ability to use your own mental abilities to coordinate your own body movements. This intelligence also challenges the belief that mental and physical activity is unrelated.

The final two types can be categorized as The Personal Intelligences as they include both interpersonal feelings and intentions of others and also interpersonal intelligence, the ability to understand your own feelings and motivations. Although they are separate from each other they are often linked together.

Critics of this theory claim that it is not a new concept and that in fact what are viewed as “intelligence's" have in fact been acknowledged for years by educators and cognitive psychologists as primary abilities, in fact Gardner's work is similar to that of L. L. Thurstone who claimed that “a single factor (g) cannot explain the complexity of human intellectual activity. " Thurstone also claimed to have identified seven primary mental abilities which were verbal comprehension, numerical ability, spatial relations, perceptual speed, work fluency, memory and reasoning that underlie all intellectual activities.

There are also a number of other theories that contradict Gardner's view of human intelligence. One of which is Charles Spearman's theory

that intelligence is composed of a general ability (or g factor) which is responsible for all intellectual functions. Gardner's theory is contradicted by this as he states that each of the seven intelligences is single entities.

Another criticism of the theory is that it is not well defined meaning it is often wondered how many intelligence's there may be and if the number will continue increasing. It is believed by a number of critics that certain “intelligences" such as bodily-Kinesthetic or musical ability are better described as individual aptitude or talent rather than being actual intelligence.

Also the multiple intelligence theory is culturally bias in that it states that a person's culture plays an important role in determining the strengths and weaknesses of a persons intelligence. This statement is often countered with the idea that intelligence is uncovered when a person has to perform an unfamiliar task in an unfamiliar setting, rather than performing in a known setting.

Gardner claims the seven intelligences are independent and as equally important as each other. But contrary to this different cultures will assign differing levels of importance to the intelligence types. Critics also doubt that even in our own culture each intelligence will have equal importance in education as well as in life.

The multiple intelligence theory has also been criticized as there are no specific tests to measure the intelligences so critics have classed it as illegitimate. This is because Gardner argued that to use a pencil and paper as measurement would be too limiting. He recommended that the intelligence should be assessed by a number of approaches that take into account the several main classifications of the intelligence such as to assess a persons spatial intelligence you could ask them to find their way through unfamiliar surroundings or to solve an abstract puzzle.

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