The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Part II)

In relation to IQ tests, Gardner asserts that the most common ones evaluate linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities and “intelligence-fair” testing ought to be used instead to assess the different modalities. Typically, a good result in these tests enhances the chances of attending a prestigious university and while many do well in such surroundings, others do not and require education to be wider, in which the use of different teaching methods is implemented, absorbing the attention of all students rather than only those with high linguistic and logical intelligence.

The Multiple Intelligence Theory suggests that there must be more ways to nurture intelligence and, here, schools play a vital role in nurturing the aforementioned intelligences, or abilities, to help individuals reach their vocational and leisure goals suitable to their particular intelligences. Here, the central aim is to make individuals feel both competent and engaged, thereby more predisposed to serving society constructively. More interestingly, the Waldorf education model incorporates all eight of the abilities outlined by Howard Gardner; however, Rudolf Steiner (refer to our previous blog article on Waldorf education) constructed a curriculum around the inner vision of the child and the child’s needs. You could say that Gardner is adding nothing special to a well-functioning model but many schools, especially in the US, are constructing their curricula on Gardner’s theory in an attempt to engage all children.

Although criticised due to many reasons, the Multiple Intelligence Theory of Howard Gardner has challenged the idea that any particular development stage of a child links together with the next, as though an ordered approach. Educators have realised that students think and learn in a variety of ways and, therefore, have tailored the assessment criteria, curricula, and pedagogy in schools to reflect more accurately the developmental challenges faced by students. We can all agree that, though still nascent, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences can be incorporated in more of our schools.

“I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place. Knowledge is not the same as morality, but we need to understand if we are to avoid past mistakes and move in productive directions. An important part of that understanding is knowing who we are and what we can do… Ultimately, we must synthesize our understandings for ourselves. The performance of understanding that try matters are the ones we carry out as human beings in an imperfect world which we can affect for good or for ill.” (Howard Gardner, 1999)

Further Reading

Gardner, H. (1991) The Unschooled Mind: How children think and how schools should teach, New York: Basic Books.


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