Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (page 2)
Harvard University psychologist Howard Gardner, author of Multiple Intelligences, believes that human beings possess nine intelligences, including the “musical intelligence,” “bodily kinesthetic intelligence,” and “logical- mathematical intelligence.” Children possess a natural awareness and sensitivity to musical sounds. They explore music with more spontaneity than any other age group, and they venture forward into music and movement activities with their voices, their bodies, and their emotions. The whole child is involved. The child’s affective, cognitive, and psychomotor responses to a musical encounter are the hallmark of creativity. Gardner (1973) provides us with a very perceptive observation that paints a lovely picture of children and their music:
The child attending to a piece of music or a story listens with his whole body. He may be at rapt attention and totally engrossed; or he may be swaying from side to side, marching, keeping time, or alternating between such moods. But in any case, his reaction to such art objects is a bodily one, presumably permeated by physical sensations (pp. 152–153)
This intelligence involves the ability to perceive, produce, and appreciate pitch (or melody) and rhythm and to appreciate the forms of musical expressiveness. Composers, performers, musicians, conductors, and “the child attending to a piece of music” all possess a great deal of musical intelligence. Conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, composer and performer Ray Charles, classical composer Igor Stravinsky, conductor Zubin Mehta, the world’s “First Lady of Song” Ella Fitzgerald, renowned 20-century pianist Arthur Rubinstein, and guitarists and songwriters James Taylor and Eric Clapton are all examples of individuals with immense musical intelligence.
The ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skillfully are the core components of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Gardner specifies that bodily intelligence is used by dancers, choreographers, athletes, mimes, surgeons, craftspeople, and others who use their hands and bodies in a problem-solving kind of way. Classic examples of individuals whose skills are embodied in this form of intelligence include American dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey; Isadora Duncan, the pioneer dancer of this century; Katherine Dunham, the first choreographer and dancer to bring African dance to the American stage; Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, the great silent clowns of the past; and contemporary masters of humorous characterizations, such as Robin Williams and Bill Cosby. Athletes like Venus and Serena Williams and Michelle Kwan also excel in grace, power, and accuracy.
Mathematicians, scientists, and composers certainly have this form of intelligence, which involves a sensitivity to and a capacity to discern logical or numerical patterns (including rhythm, meter, time signature, and note value) and the ability to handle long chains of reasoning. Some examples of people who demonstrate highly developed logical-mathematical intelligence include Johann Sebastian Bach, scientists Albert Einstein and Madame Curie, biologist Ernest Everett Just, and botanist George Washington Carver. The capacity to explore patterns, categories, and relationships can be heard in the four-part harmony and counterpoint music from the baroque period.
An example of logical-mathematical intelligence in composers is revealed in Bach’s colossal work, The Art of Fugue, often referred to as a transmission of a purely abstract theory. In any case, The Art of Fugue is an excellent example of logical-mathematical intelligence, carrying pure counterpoint to its height. Read the following description of The Art of Fugue, and you may agree that Bach’s work is as complex as any mathematical problem you have ever tried to solve.
It starts with four fugues, two of which present the theme, the others presenting the theme in contrary motion (that is, back to front). Then there are counter fugues, in which the original subject is inverted (turned upside down) and combined with the original. There are double and triple fugues, several canons, three pairs of mirror fugues. To make the mirror reflection doubly realistic, the treble of the first fugue becomes the bass of the second fugue, the alto changes into a tenor, the tenor into an alto, and the bass into a treble, with the result that No. 12:2 appears like 12:1 standing on its head. (Schonberg, 1981, p. 43)
Certainly, few readers will understand what all of that means, but it does make a good case for including logical-mathematical intelligence in this chapter on music and movement!
The concept of musical, bodily-kinesthetic, and logical-mathematical intelligences suggests that our ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch, and timbre while appreciating the many forms of musical expression and our ability to use our bodies and to handle objects skillfully deserve to be nourished so that we can function at our fullest potential as human beings. According to Gardner, our success as adults in musical, bodily-kinesthetic, and logical-mathematical competency may have been helped or hindered by experiences during our early childhood years. Gardner challenges educators to recognize these separate intelligences and to nurture them as universal intelligences that serve important functions in children’s cognitive, affective, social, and physical development.
© ______ 2005, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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