Multiple Intelligences: Gardner’s Theory

Hyperaxion Oct 6, 2020

The idea that there are several types of intelligence, besides logical-mathematical, has had a major impact on pedagogical approaches.

Currently, in IQ or intelligence tests applied at universities, intelligence is measured mainly based on a single type of intelligence, focused on calculations and results.

However, for teachers, it is common to not be able to reach all students using a single methodology.

Many people can only learn when information is presented in a different way, or when they have new options to express themselves.

Some people find it difficult to communicate well using writing, but they do it perfectly with images or drawings. Other people have trouble understanding fractions, until someone represents it by slicing oranges, for example.

Howard Gardner's eight types of intelligences.
Howard Gardner’s eight types of intelligences. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons).

What is Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences?

Proposed by Howard Gardner in 1983, the theory of multiple intelligences revolutionized the way we understand intelligence.

It is based on the fact that a unique approach to education will always leave some students behind.

Gardner believes that IQ tests are of limited relevance to real life and, according to him, there may be up to eight different types of intelligence, and each excels in different areas.

Gardner’s ideas are very similar to those about emotional intelligence, another special type of intelligence that may be even more important for success in life than traditional academic intelligence.

Howard Gardner’s eight types of intelligences

Howard Gardner, the Harvard professor who originally proposed the theory, says there are several types of human intelligence, each representing different forms of information processing.

1. Logical-mathematical intelligence

This type of intelligence is more oriented towards conclusions based on reason, and describes the ability to solve equations and tests, to have logical thinking, to detect patterns, to make calculations, and to solve abstract problems.

For a long time, this was the main type used to measure a person’s intelligence through the IQ test.

Logical-mathematical learning style

The learning style that best fits this profile is focused on numbers and logic.

Career choices

People with high logical-mathematical intelligence excel as engineers, scientists, accountants, statisticians, and analysts.

2. Visual-spatial intelligence

This intelligence is linked to visual and spatial perception, to the interpretation and creation of visual images, and pictorial imagination. It allows people to better understand diagrammed information, such as maps.

Visual-spatial learning style

This learning style is related to images, pictures, shapes, and three-dimensional space.

Career choices

People with high visual-spatialintelligence excel as architects, photographers, designers, and sculptors.

3. Linguistic intelligence

Linguistic intelligence refers to a person’s ability to express themselves, whether through language or gestures, as well as the ability to analyze and interpret ideas and information, and to produce something involving oral and written language.

People with high linguistic intelligence are often great communicators and speakers, and learn new languages ​​with ease.

Linguistic learning style

The learning style is related to the use of language and words.

Career choices

Those with high linguistic intelligence excel as writers, lawyers, poets, journalists, copywriters, and public relations professionals.

4. Interpersonal intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence reflects the ability to recognize and understand other people’s feelings, motivations, desires, and intentions.

Interpersonal learning style

The learning style linked to this type of intelligence involves human contact, teamwork, and communication.

Career choices

People with high interpersonal intelligence excel as therapists, teachers, psychologists, doctors, HR professionals, and politicians

5. Intrapersonal intelligence

Intrapersonal intelligence refers to people’s ability to recognize themselves, perceiving their feelings, motivations, and desires. It is linked to the ability to identify their unconscious habits, transform their attitudes, control addictions and emotions.

Intrapersonal learning style

The learning style is linked to self-reflection.

Career choices

This type of intelligence can be applied to any profession.

6. Naturalistic intelligence

Naturalistic intelligence refers to the ability to understand the natural world, identifying and distinguishing between different types of plants, animals, and climatic variables.

Although this type of intelligence is not part of Gardner’s original study, he decided to include it in 1995, as it is essential for survival in the future.

Naturalistic learning style

Learning occurs through contact with nature.

Career choices

People with high naturalistic intelligence excel as biologists, geologists, climate engineers, gardeners, and meteorologists.

7. Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence

Body-kinesthetic intelligence involves using your own body to solve problems. It concerns the ability to control body movements, balance, coordination, and expression through the body.

Bodily-Kinesthetic learning style

This learning style is related to physical experience and movement, sensation, and touch.

Career choices

People with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence excel as dancers, actors, professional athletes, divers, firefighters, and drivers.

8. Musical intelligence

Musical intelligence refers to the ability to produce, understand, and identify different types of sound, recognizing tonal and rhythmic patterns.

Musical learning style

The type of learning is related to music, rhythms, and sounds.

Career choices

People with high musical intelligence excel as musicians, composers, DJs, singers, music producers, and audio engineers.

The difference between multiple intelligences and learning styles

Learning styles are how each of us learns best and multiple intelligences are the skills we can use to learn anything and achieve our goals. There is a close relationship between learning styles and multiple intelligences.

The theory of multiple intelligences suggests teaching approaches that adapt to the “potentialities” of each student, as well as the modality by which each one can learn better.

According to Gardner, everyone has all eight types of intelligence listed above, at different levels of proficiency. For this reason, the learning style does not necessarily need to relate to a person’s strongest type of intelligence.

For example, if someone is skilled in learning new languages, it does not necessarily mean that they prefer to learn through lectures.

What the Theory of Multiple Intelligences can teach us

Although further research is still needed to determine the best methods for assessing people’s intelligence, this theory has broadened the definitions we currently have.

We must start thinking about the different ways in which information can be presented and learned.

Some tests can help you find out which types of intelligence are most related to you. They are an interesting way to learn about how some of our tastes and interests can influence how we perceive information.

However, these results are not intended to label people. Labeling creates boundaries and, when it comes to learning, we must avoid restricting the way we define our potential.

People have many different types of intelligences, and strength in one area does not mean weakness in another.

Related topics:

Multiple intelligences


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