Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI):
Today the education system focuses mostly on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence and ignores the other aspects of intelligence or capacities of a student. The evaluation system is also based on the individual or general capacity of a person and is measured by simple pen and paper tests or one-time assessments. However, Gardner suggested that the evaluation process must give equal attention to the individual so the other aspects of intelligence such as what is found among artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs etc can flourish.
Unfortunately, students gifted with other kinds of intelligence rather than just linguistic and logical-mathematical skills do not get proper reinforcement and hence are labelled as “poor learners” or “underachievers.” Also, their unique thinking and learning ability cannot be judged by simple traditional methods of assessments. Gardner focused on the other aspects of intelligence by proposing the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, henceforth, MI. It should be widely used and implemented in schools. MI theory describes human potential in children as well as in adults. Dr Gardner proposes eight different types of intelligence in humans. These intelligences are:
1) Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”): Capacity to use words effectively, deal with writing and vocabulary, listening and responding to spoken words. Example: Rhetoric (using language to convince others to take a specific course of action), mnemonics (using language to remember information), explanation (using language to inform), and meta-language (using language to talk about itself).
2) Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”): Includes logic of mathematics, concepts of quantity, time, cause, reasoning and effect. For example: categorization, classification, inference, generalization, calculation, and hypothesis testing.
3) Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”): Perceiving the visual-spatial words accurately and transforming those perceptions. It includes identification of colour, line, shape, relationship etc. example: an interior decorator, architect, artist, or inventor
4) Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”): Proficiency in using one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings. Prefer direct involvement example: an actor, a mime, an athlete, or a dancer.
5) Musical intelligence (“music smart”): The capacity to perceive, discriminate, transform and express musical forms. Also includes singing, instrument playing, sounds, and music. Example: a music critic, a composer and a performer.
6) Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”): Includes communication and interaction with others, maintaining social relationships, perceive the feelings, thoughts, motivations, behaviours, and lifestyles of others. Example: A talk to influence a group of people
7) Intrapersonal intelligence (“self-smart”): Reflection of personality, self-development, having an accurate picture of oneself (one’s strengths and limitations); working independently and the capacity for self-discipline, self-understanding, and self-esteem.
8) Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”): It includes awareness and observation in the surrounding environment, expertise in flora and fauna, and sensitivity to other natural phenomena also such as cloud formations, mountains, rainfall etc.
All these types of intelligence are present in each individual to different extents. Although these are located in various parts of the brain and are interconnected to each other but can work independently. So the MI theory suggests that the teachers should be trained in this way so they can use a variety of teaching aids such as audio/video, picture composition, games, music, art activities, field trip, multimedia, information technology and computers in the classroom.
Methods which can be used to activate various aspects of intelligence in the classroomThe theory of MI suggests several other ways in which the subjects/matter might be presented and taught to facilitate effective learning in the classroom. MI theory allows the use of available teaching/learning tools beyond the conventional methods used in most schools, for example, lecture, textbooks, writing assignments etc. It also expands the prospect of teaching. Different classroom activities frequently activate and utilize more than one of the multiple intelligences, for example, storytelling is one method that can be used to stimulate almost all aspects of MI theory in the classroom. Other methods such as group discussion help in developing Verbal-Linguistic and Interpersonal communication, report writing activities – Intrapersonal as well as Verbal/Linguistic and so on.
1) StorytellingIn kindergarten, storytelling is one of the effective methods to stimulate various intelligence together. The eight intelligences of MI theory can be incorporated into students effectively through this simple method. It can be used in the following way:
|Name of intelligences to be activated||Story telling|
|Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence||Teacher can read the story for the whole class.Ask students to respond to the story Write a few points of the story and illustrate it.|
|Musical/Rhythmic||Write a catchy jingle or rap Sing a song about the story Dance|
|Logical/Mathematical||Make a word problem involving sequences of the story|
|Visual/Spatial||Have students close their eyes and think of the story or event Ask students to redesign the story|
|Bodily/Kinesthetic||Role play the story Imitate the characters of the story|
|Intrapersonal||Tell students to write down all they know about the story|
|Intrapersonal||Groups discuss the plot, setting, character, problem, and solution for the story|
|Naturalist Intelligence||Recognizes and can name many different types of trees, flowers, and plants named in story|
2. Other methods or classroom activities There are different types of classroom activities listed below and can be used in the classroom to activate and utilize more than one of the multiple intelligences.
|Activity||Types of intelligence|
|1. Group discussion||Verbal-Linguistic; Interpersonal|
|2. Journal writing||Intrapersonal; Verbal/Linguistic|
|3. Choreography||Music-Rhythmic; Verbal-Linguistic; Interpersonal|
|4. Putting on a play||Musical-Rhythmic; Verbal/Linguistic; Interpersonal; Visual-Spatial|
|5. Hands-on||experimentation Kinesthetic, Logical/Mathematical|