Theoretical and Research Base: Multiple Intelligences (page 2)
Over the past decade, our view of human intelligence has expanded and enlarged. In the past, there was a tendency to think of intelligence as a singular trait—the general capacity of the human being for storing, retrieving, and processing information. Howard Gardner (1993a) defines intelligence as “the ability to solve problems, or to fashion products that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting or community” (p. 15) and he has proposed that there are nine—and possibly more—types of intelligence. (The ninth intelligence is newer and has not been researched as extensively as the other eight.) He argues that each way of thinking is sufficiently distinctive to warrant a special category. The nine types of intelligence are as follows:
- Verbal/linguistic—intelligence with words and language, such as the skill possessed by a writer or a person who can speak several languages fluently.
- Logical/mathematical—intelligence with sequential thinking and numerical reasoning ability, such as the abilities possessed by a mathematician or scientist.
- Bodily/kinesthetic—wisdom about one’s own body and its movements, such as the intelligence possessed by a figure skater or a wide receiver in football.
- Visual/spatial—intelligence in using “the mind’s eye” to work with images and see their interrelationships, such as the intelligence needed by an architect.
- Musical/rhythmic—intelligence having to do with sound patterns, mastery of musical notation, and musical talent, such as the skills of a composer or performer.
- Interpersonal—intelligence in dealing with human interaction and perceptivity about how to resolve social problems, such as the abilities of a skilled counselor or therapist.
- Intrapersonal—wisdom about the self that leads to self-knowledge and personal growth, such as the intelligence of a person who fully understands how he or she learns.
- Environmental/naturalist—intelligence having to do with adapting to and learning about the physical environment, both natural and human-made (Checkley, 1997). Examples of careers for naturalists are marine biologist, city planner, and forest ranger.
- Philosophical/moral—Although research on this type of intelligence is not as well developed as it is for the previous eight, those who possess philosophical/moral intelligence are capable of seeing the big picture and getting to the heart of the matter. These individuals raise questions of significance and grapple with ethical considerations effectively. Examples of professions that would rely on this form of intelligence are judges and clergy.
Furthermore, Gardner argued that only the first two forms of intelligence—verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical—were routinely emphasized in American schools and that, as a result, much human potential was being wasted. Many other educators agree that we need to plan programs that respect these different ways of knowing (Hatch, 1997; Reiff, 1997). To see what a teaching theme that provides for the eight main types of intelligence might look like, see the teaching themes for preschool, first grade, and third grade in .
Ideally all schools would (a) cultivate skills that are valued in community and society, (b) approach new concepts and subjects in a variety of ways, and (c) personalize instruction as much as possible (Latham, 1997). One reason for this is that creativity is, to some extent, field-specific. Different roles such as music video director, crime scene investigator, or vocalist on a nationally televised talent show obviously require different forms of creative thought.
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