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Theory of Multiple Intelligences

The theory of multiple intelligences is a theory proposed by the Harvard developmental psychologist Howard Gardner in 1983. The theory proposes that people have several kinds of "intelligence." Gardner bases much of his theory on studies of people who have had brain damage and studying their relative ability or inability to learn.

He proposed that intelligence is the ability to solve problems that have value in at least one culture. The intelligences he defined are:

1- Verbal-linguistic
To do with words, spoken or written. People who specialise in this area are generally good at writing, oration and (to a lesser extent) learning from lectures. They also tend to have broad vocabularies and learn languages easily.

2- Logical-mathematical
To do with numbers and with logic. Those who favour this intelligence generally excel in math and computer programming, and are often jacks of all trades by virtue of logic. Careers might include those involving science and computer programming.

3- Visual-spatial
To do with vision and spacial judgement. People in this group are generally posessed of high hand-eye coordination, can interpret art well and can tesselate objects (as in loading a truck) easily. Such people might work as artists, artisans and engineers.

4- Body-kinesthetic
To do with muscular coordination, movement and doing. In this category, people generally are more adept at sports and dance, and work better when moving. In addition, they learn better by doing things and interacting with them physically. Most dancers, gymnasts and athletes are in this category.

5- Auditory-musical
To do with hearing. Those good with this tend to be better singers and have better pitch, in addition to liking music more. Music also helps people in this category work better, and those here will also learn better from lectures.

6- Interpersonal
To do with interaction with others. People categorised here are usually extroverts, and good with people. They can be charismatic and convincing and diplomatic. They tend to learn better when people are involved, eg. in discussions.

7- Intrapersonal
To do with oneself. People categorised here are most often introverts and have very complex philosophies. These people often end up in religion or psychology and like to be alone.

8- Naturalist
To do with nature. People in this category are not only good with life but also with the various functions of it and mechanisms behind it; indeed many people here claim to sense life force and energy. In this area, people generally end up in biology or environmentalism.

Other intelligences have been suggested, such as "spiritual intelligence".

Relationship to education
Schools emphasize the development of logical intelligence and linguistic intelligence (mainly reading and writing). People may also have various degrees of spatial intelligence (such as that possessed by architects and sculptors), kinesthetic intelligence (athletes and ballet dancers for instance), musical intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence (ability to reflect and know oneself) and interpersonal intelligence. According to Gardner, schools must strive to develop all intelligences, at the same time recognizing that children will usually excel at only one or two of them and should not be penalized for this.

Other resources
Multiple Intelligences: Gardner's Theory. ERIC Digest
Project SUMIT - The Theory of Multiple Intelligences


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