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Teaching and Learning

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An Overview of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences


The definition of an intelligence according to Gardner is " the ability to solve a problem or make something that is valued by a culture".

The Eight Multiple Intelligences

The following excerpt is the latest definition of Gardner’s EIGHT Intelligences in his own words:

"Linguistic intelligence is the capacity to use language, your native language, and perhaps other languages, to express what’s on your mind and to understand other people. Poets really specialize in linguistic intelligence, but any kind of writer, orator, speaker, lawyer, or a person for whom language is an important stock in trade highlights linguistic intelligence.

People with highly developed logical-mathematical intelligence understand the underlying principle of some kind of causal system, the way a scientist or a logician does; or can manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations, the way a mathematician does.

Spatial intelligence refers to the ability to represent the spatial world internally in you mind--the way a sailor or airplane pilot navigates the large spatial world, or the way a chess player or sculptor represents a more circumscribed spatial world. Spatial intelligence can be used in the arts or in the science. If you are spatially intelligent and oriented toward the arts, you are more likely to become a printer or a sculptor or and architect than, say, a musician or a writer. Similarly, certain sciences like anatomy or topology emphasize spatial intelligence. (Note: formerly the "Visual-spatial intelligence").

Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to use your whole body or parts of your body -- your hand, your fingers, your arms -- to solve a problem, make something, or put on some kind of a production. The most evident example are people in athletics or performing arts, particularly dance or acting.

Musical intelligence is the capacity to think in music, to be able to hear patterns, recognize them, remember them, and perhaps manipulate them. People who have a strong musical intelligence don't just remember music easily -- they can’t get it out of their minds, it’s so omnipresent. Now, some people will say, "Yes, music is important, but it’s a talent, not an intelligence." And I say, "Fine, let’s call it a talent." But, then we have to leave the word intelligent out of all discussion of human ability. You know, Mozart was damned smart!

Interpersonal intelligence is understanding other people. It’s an ability we need, but is at a premium if you are a teacher, clinician, salesperson, or politician. Anybody who deals with other people has to be skilled in the interpersonal sphere.

Intrapersonal intelligence refers to having an understanding of yourself, of knowing who you are, what you can do, what you want to do, how you react to things, which things to avoid, and which things to gravitate toward. We are drawn to people who have a good understanding of themselves because those people tend not to screwed up. They tend to know what they can do. They tend to know what they cant do. And they tend to know where to go, if they need help.

Naturalist intelligence (new this year) designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants and animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the nature world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef. I also speculate that much of our consumer society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilized in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like. The kind of pattern recognition valued in certain of the sciences may also draw upon naturalist intelligence" (Educational Leadership 55, 1, Sep. 1997, p. 12).



Sample Multiple Intelligence Activities for a Unit on Snow

Leslie Gordon, 1995


Logical Mathematical