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Multiple Intelligence (MI)


Howard Gardner is a psychologist and Professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, as well as co-Director of Harvard Project Zero.

“An intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings.”      – Howard Gardner FRAMES OF MIND (1983)

Howard Gardner claims that all human beings have multiple intelligences. These multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened. He believes each individual has nine intelligences:

1 Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart) — well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words

2 Mathematical-Logical Intelligence (Number / Reasoning Smart) — ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and capacity to discern logical or numerical patterns

3 Musical Intelligence (Music Smart) — ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber

4 Visual-Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart) — capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly

5 Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart) — ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skillfully

6 Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart) — capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others.

7 Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart) — capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes

8 Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart) — ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature

9 Existential Intelligence — sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.

The first seven intelligences was defined in FRAMES OF MIND (1983) and Howard Gardner added the last two in INTELLIGENCE REFRAMED (1999).

Based on his study of many people from many different walks of life in everyday circumstances and professions, Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. He performed interviews with and brain research on hundreds of people, including stroke victims, prodigies, autistic individuals, and so-called “idiot savants.”

According to Gardner,

  • All human beings possess all nine intelligences in varying amounts.
  • Each person has a different intellectual composition.
  • We can improve education by addressing the multiple intelligences of our students.
  • These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together.
  • These intelligences may define the human species.
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