Multiple Intelligences

Contemporary western culture teaches, tests, reinforces and rewards primarily two kinds of intelligence: verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical.

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences proposes that there are at least nine intelligences that are equally important. They are “languages” that most people speak, and that cut through cultural, educational, and ability differences.

Individuals possess an ‘intelligence profile’ across all these intelligences. Whereas some believe that intelligence (IQ) is fixed MI theory holds that any intelligence may be developed over time, although for any individual this may be easier for some intelligences than others.

An holistic approach to MIs might emphasise the dynamic interplay of all intelligences, both within self and collaboratively with others, through a meta-cognitive process.

There are numerous resources available to help teachers design activities and topics to stimulate the different intelligences as well as research on how they have been used in the classroom.

MI Resources and tests

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence Thinks and learns with words and speech.
Can memorise facts, do written tests, and enjoys reading.

Core Operations: syntax, phonology, semantics, pragmatics

“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 intelligences.” -Howard Gardner (Checkley, 1997, Sept. p. 12)

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence Thinks deductively applying rules and principles.
Can deal with numbers and recognise abstract patterns.

Core Operations: number, categorization, relations

“People with highly developed logical-mathematical intelligence understand the underlying principles of some kind of a causal system, the way a scientist or a logician does; or can manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations, the way a mathematician does.” -Howard Gardner (Checkley, 1997, p. 12)

Visual/Spatial Intelligence Thinks in images and pictures.
Can visualise, create designs and communicate with diagrams.

Core Operations: accurate mental visualization, mental transformation of images

“Spatial intelligence refers to the ability to represent the spatial world internally in your 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 sciences. If you are spatially intelligent and oriented toward the arts, you are more likely to become a painter or a sculptor or an architect than, say, a musician or a writer. Similarly, certain sciences like anatomy or topology emphasize spatial intelligence.” -Howard Gardner (Checkley, 1997, p. 12)

Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence Learns with rhyme and rhythym.
Can recognise tonal patterns.

Core Operations: pitch, rhythm, timbre

“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 discussions of human abilities. You know, Mozart was damned smart!” –Howard Gardner (Checkley, 1997, p. 12)

Interpersonal Intelligence Learns with others.
Can facilitate groups, tell stories.

Core Operations: awareness of others’ feelings, emotions, goals, motivations

“Interpersonal intelligence is understanding other people. It’s an ability we all 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.” –Howard Gardner (Checkley, 1997, p. 12)

Intrapersonal Intelligence Learns through self reflection.
Can use meta-thinking, explore inner worlds.

Core Operations: awareness of one’s own feelings, emotions, goals, motivations

“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 screw up. They tend to know what they can do. They tend to know what they can’t do. And they tend to know where to go if they need help.”–Howard Gardner (Checkley, 1997, p. 12)

Body/Kinesthetic Intelligence Learns through movement.
Can use body language, body memory.

Core Operations: control of one’s own body, control in handling objects

“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 examples are people in athletics or the performing arts, particularly dance or acting.” –Howard Gardner (Checkley, 1997, p. 12)

Naturalist Intelligence Learns through patterns in the natural environment.
Can recognise and understand plants and animals in the natural world.

Core Operations: recognition and classification of objects in the environment

“Naturalist intelligence designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural 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.” -Howard Gardner (Checkley, 1997, p. 12).

Existential Intelligence

Learns through deep questioning.
Can place self within time and space (kosmos)

Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence. The core ability is the capacity to locate oneself with respect to the furthest reaches of the cosmos, the infinite no less than the infinitesimal, and the related capacity to locate oneself with respect to the most existential features of the human condition, the significance of life, the meaning of death, the ultimate fate of the physical and the psychological worlds, such profound experiences as love of another human being or total immersion in a work of art.

More Information

MI Tests

Tapping Into Multiple Intelligences – Excellent site with 9 MIs – a short course for teachers and a quick MI quiz.

MI for K-6 Teachers – good descriptions and suggested practice – some pop-up ads.

The Multiple Intelligences Model and Years 5 to 8 – Faculty of Education, Deakin University

Learning Talents – MI – comprehensive descriptions of each MI.

MI Smart – MI Graphic – Brief Definitions – 9 MIs MI Smart Program – examples for K-6

David Lazear’s MI Resources – Excellent paper resources in understanding how to teach using the intelligences.

MI for younger children

Adult Multiple Intelligences – Project Zero research.

New Horizons – MI Resources on the web.

Teacher Education: MI – Australia

Conversation with Howard Gardner on MI in Educational Leadership

80 question test with bar graph results for 7 MIs – NB Only 10 people can do this at one time.
MI Inventory – 80 questions – 7MIs

MI Test – 84 questions – 7MIs

The Roger’s Indicator of MI – 49 questions

Family Education MI test – 8MIs – for parents.

Other Intelligences

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Test – 70 questions – have to register for in depth results – some pop-up ads.

Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) – According to Danah Zohar spiritual intelligence is about creative, insightful, rule-making, rule-breaking, transformative thinking.