A brief look at what Gardner’s theory entails and how its principles can be beneficial in understanding the diverse classrooms we teach.
By Spencer B. Johnston
Introduction to Teaching Profession
Valencia Community College 2010
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory
Gardner’s “ Theory of Multiple Intelligences” is a unique and widely accepted form of explanation for differences in applied intelligence. Particularly important is how these “multiple intelligences” play out in the classroom. In a diverse atmosphere of dense cultural differences and talents alike, the 21st century American classroom is one of specific interest to support this theory. A new demand for hiring better educated, more culturally diverse teachers is here in the refreshing form of our budding American atmosphere filled with little voices and minds to mold.
Gardner’s theory (Gardner, 1998, 1999b, as cited in Ciccarelli, 2009) was primarily made up of seven intelligences that were comprised of Verbal/Linguistic, Musical, Logical/Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Movement, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal. After further studies had been done, Gardner introduced the additional intelligences Naturalist and Existentialist. Students that showed promise in one area of intelligence may not do as well, or even poorly in other areas of intelligence. Classrooms continue to grow and grow in terms of learning styles of their diverse populations. This remains to be a positive issue among professionals and one that naturally promises a multitude of exciting experiences.
A classroom is likely to be comprised of a student body that easily supports Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Verbal and linguistically gifted students may exude a knowledge for fanciful word play, or even claim to be a word smith! Musically talented are often audibly sensed before visually. It can be challenging to focus with notes swimming in your head. Students that achieve high marks in mathematics and exercises in logic may need additional problems of varying degrees of difficulty. Often, their talents are misunderstood. Visual and spatially gifted students may have exceptional sense of direction, always knowing where they are and where they are going. Intelligence in movement can lead to an early retirement as a professional athlete or ballerina. Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligences are closely related and as a result often confused. Interpersonal refers to an outward empathetic nature toward those around us, while intrapersonal generally refers to self-reflection. A complex understanding of nature is indicative of Gardner’s eight intelligence, the naturalist intelligence, while the existentialist intelligence focuses on spirituality, theology, the philosophical.
The goal of educators should , in part, be to endure as many credible educational experiences of diverse origin as possible. With an understanding of Gardner’s “Multiple Intelligences Theory”, and a student population that continues to grow, change and flourish, it is self-destructive behavior for an educator to not grow in the same ways.
An effective tool for one’s classroom of “multiple intelligences,” could be a chart of the theory and its pertinence to said class. If Gardner’s theory is to be most effective, its most likely that one would need a key ingredient: time. Time to get to know your students’ strong points and often more importantly: their weak ones.
Ciccarelli, Sandra K.” Psychology”, 2nd Edition. Pearson Education, Inc. 2009. ISBN 0-13-600428-8.