Multiple Intelligences In 1893, Dr. Howard Gardner an

In 1893, Dr. Howard Gardner an educational professor at Harvard University developed the theory of multiple intelligences. According to Dr. Gardner, there are eight different personal intelligences that make up an individual. These intelligences work jointly to create the whole individual. As teachers, it's important to teach to all of these intelligences, in order to allow all students to meet their full potential.

The eight intelligences identified by Gardner are linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, spatial, interpersonal, intra-personal, and naturalistic. Schools often teach towards linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, as this is what our culture deems most valuable. This is unfortunate for those students whose strengths lie in the other six areas. These students (our artists, musicians, architects, athletes) often end up classified with some sort of learning disability or ADHD. The eight intelligences are thought of in the following way:

1.Linguist intelligence is word smarts. An ability to use and learn languages. These are our poets, writers, lawyers, etc.

2.Logical-mathematical intelligence is an ability to logically solve and approach tasks, work through mathematical problems and to think scientifically. These are our mathematicians, engineers, scientist, etc.

3.Musical intelligence is an appreciation for musical patterns and a talent for creating and performing musical pitch, tones, and rhythms. According to Gardner, musical intelligence runs in parallel to linguistic intelligence. These are our singers and songwriters.

4.Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is an ability to coordinate the mind and bodily movements in a skillful manner. These are our professional athletes, actors, dancers, etc.

5.Spatial intelligence is a unique ability to recreate the visual world in one's mind or on paper. These are our designers, architects, artists, etc.

6.Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to relate to others in a skillful manner due to a heightened sense of their wants and needs. These are our teachers, politicians, preachers, etc.

7.Intra-personal intelligence is a unique ability to understand one's self. These are our counselors, novelists, motivational speakers, etc.

8.Naturalist intelligence is the last of Gardener's intelligences, which was identified a few years after the first seven. This is the ability to identify things in nature, such as plants, animals, and rocks. These are our naturalist, bird- watchers, environmentalist and the four year old that can name every dinosaur.

As a teacher, it's important to look at one's students as a whole collection of these intelligences and to teach towards his/her strengths. In Education World, it lists ways in which teachers can meet the multiple intelligences of their students. One way this can be done is through lesson design. In this approach, teachers would use all or some of the intelligences in their lesson. Another approach would be to assign activities that tap into the students' strengths. For example, those with musical intelligence may compose a song for the different spelling rules, whereas a student with spatial intelligence may create a poster outlining the rules. Teachers, who understand and appreciate multiple intelligences, allow their students to explore and learn in a way that best suits their learning style.

The importance of Dr. Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences is it has forced the educational world to look at their students' as unique individual. Just because a student doesn't fit into the traditionally valued linguist and logical-mathematical intelligences, doesn't mean they have nothing to offer. It's a matter of tapping into their strengths and using that to guide instruction. Teaching is about using all the tricks up our sleeves, in order to allow our students to reach their full potential. Multiple intelligences just reinforces what we all already know as teachers, every student is intelligent and it's just a matter of figuring out how to help them to best display their knowledge.


Armstrong, Thomas, Multiple Intelligences,

Guigon, Anne, Multiple Intelligences: A Theory for Everyone, Education World,

Infed, Howard Gardner,