Howard Gardner -Theory

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 26 September 2016

Howard Gardner -Theory

Most learning institutions generally focus education on the linguistic and mathematical intelligence. Children in pre-school are first taught to know their ABCs and to count from one to ten. Those who can recite the alphabet well are considered bright students. Learners who can do
addition at an early age are placed on the honors list. It had been that intelligence is measured using IQ tests.

The higher the IQ is the smarter the person is. But the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, proposed by Howard Gardner in the year 1983, states otherwise. The theory basically implies that other than linguistic and mathematical competence, there are other or multiple aspects of the learning that should be considered as intelligence also.

Likewise, the theory points out that standardized IQ tests is not a sufficient measurement of smartness or dumbness of a person. Gardner’s theory stirred the psychological and educational communities. It received varied reactions. Some were impressed and readily accepted the theory as it explains the differences of each students.

Yet, some raised their eyebrows and issues sprouted as questions of validity and empirical evidences of the theory may not sustain the claims of the theory. There have been a lot of debates pertaining to multiple intelligences. Several writers have also expressed their varied opinions regarding the topic. Indeed the theory  proves to be an interesting milestone in the study of human learning and cognitive sciences.

It also gives a lot of insight on how education in the future would affect the different abilities of each person. The theory, which is more than 20 years old, is already accepted and even integrated in some school but at the same time still in the middle of scrutiny.

Howard Gardner was born in 1943 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His parents  were originally from N ‘rnberg, Germany. They went to the US in 1938 with their three-year old son Eric. Before Gardner was born, Eric died in a sleighing accident. These were not known to Howard during his childhood but have a fairly significant impact upon his thinking and development.

He was discouraged from trying risky physical activities and was rather  encouraged to develop his creative and intellectual abilities. As he began to find out his family history, he realized that he was different from his parents and friends. For his education , he went to a preparatory school in Kingston , Pennsylvania against his parents wish to send him to Phillips Academy in Andover , Massachusetts . After that, Gardner attended Harvard University and took up a course in history in preparation for a career in law. In Harvard he was able to study under scholars like Eric Erickson, sociologists David Riesman and cognitive psychologist Jerome Burner.

Howard Gardner’s theory on multiple intelligences attempts to provide a comprehensive view of intelligence. In the psychological era where the single theory prevailed, Gardner broke away and stopped from settling with just a single factor to be held responsible for intelligence. He rejected the idea of measuring intelligence through IQ tests. According to Howard Gardner, human beings have nine different kinds of intelligence that reflect different ways of interacting with the world.

Gardner developed the well-known theory of eight multiple intelligences, consisting of verbal/linguistic, musical, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and naturalist intelligences. For Gardner, a person must satisfy a range of these criteria in order to quality as a person possessing intelligence. This is a much better theory, because it does not limit itself to a single entity.

Compared to a single theory of intelligence where the theorist must restrict himself into choosing one that would provide the answer to measuring a person’s knowledge and abilities, Gardner’s theory opens itself to the possibility that there could be many areas where a person could demonstrate his skills and knowledge.

The advantage of Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences lies in its being an “account of human cognition in its fullness”. It takes into account that man is equipped with a basic set of intelligences and that each man is unique with respect to which different components of the set of intelligences he may possess. This leads to the notion that man has the opportunity of taking advantage of his uniqueness by tailoring his education in accordance with his strengths and weaknesses.

Howard Gardner introduced his theory of multiple intelligences in 1983. Multiple Intelligences is a theory about the brain that says human beings are born with a single intelligence, that cannot be changed, and is measurable by a psychologist. Gardner believes that that there is eight different intelligences in humans. Most intelligence tests only one or two intelligences, usually language and logic. Six others according to Gardner are musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist.

Gardner believes that everyone acquires all eight of these intelligences, and through environment, genetics, and different experiences no two people have the same make up of intelligences. Because of these differences we need to look at educating students differently. We can either overlook these differences in our students and teach them all the same way, or realize that all students have different intellectual strengths and weaknesses, and factor these differences into the way we teach our students. Unfortunately in our schools if a student has an understanding of the intelligences language, and logic, than they will have no problem passing the kind of tests that are given in school, which in turn will make them feel that they are very smart.

But another student who may have weaker language, and logic intelligences but is altogether just as intelligent as the other student, will never is able to pass the tests required in our schools. And in turn these students will grow up feeling as if they are not smart, when in fact they can be extremely intelligent. Some students may have a better understanding of subjects if only they were taught to use any other of their intelligences to understand a particular subject.

Students and educators need to figure out how a particular mind works, for them to better learn and understand. If a student at an early age feels that they are not as smart as the other students, it will affect them for their whole lives. They will feel differently about themselves, and school. This will also cause a low self-esteem which will hurt them, and keep them from reaching their full potential. Gardner believes that a student first needs to try to improve their language, and logic intelligences, but if they can’t they should know that they still have the ability to learn, and should try using many of their other intelligences.

Basically educators and students need to realize that no two people think the same way, and need to modify the curriculum to help every student learn and understand. Gardner believes that elementary school should not be a time of strict, disciplined learning, but a time to teach the joy of learning. Young children need to learn the differences between, opinions, beliefs, and evidence, and this will carry them throughout the later education years.

 I think that in our schools we have some a few programs like classes for gifted students, and classes for slower students. But when it comes down to it everyone is taught the same material in the same way, and is everyone is expected to pass the same test. I think that seeing what Gardner believes in our classrooms today would be encouraging, and wonderful. But I also think that realistically it would be very difficult to be carried out in all of our schools. But when it comes down to it we as a nation needs to realize that our children are the future of our country.



July 19, 2010


  • Subject:

  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 26 September 2016

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