Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
When Harvard psychology professor Howard Gardner wrote Frames of Mind over twenty years ago, the general public largely accepted the idea that one's intelligence could be simply measured through an IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, test. A high IQ meant you were smart, and were given certain opportunities in life, and a low IQ meant you were a bit slow, with your opportunities restricted accordingly.
Gardner's book, however, popularized the idea that the logical-mathematical or “general” intelligence normally measured by IQ tests might not actually be a good measure of a person’s potential. IQ testing may have been reasonably effective at predicting how well you would do on school subjects, but not great at gauging your ability to compose a symphony, win a political campaign, program a computer or master a foreign tongue. Gardner seems to replace the question “How smart are you?” with a wiser, more inclusive “How are you smart?”
While the multiple intelligences concept went against the traditional narrow view of intelligence, the success of the book and its impact on public debate revealed a need for a perhaps more common sense understanding of what intelligence really involved. We intuitively know that how well you do in school does not determine your success in life, and everyone knows very brainy people who have not amounted to much. Similarly, we would find it hard to believe that the achievements of figures such as Mozart, Henry Ford, Gandhi or Churchill were merely the result merely of 'high IQ'. Gardner's book, while going against conventional wisdom, actually gives us an appreciation of intelligence close to what we already know: that we each have different ways of being intelligent, and that success comes from refining and utilizing these intelligences across a lifetime.
Gardner claims that all human beings possess a unique blend of seven intelligences through which we engage with the world and seek our fulfillment. These “frames of mind” include two that are typically valued in traditional education, three that are usually associated with the arts, and two he calls “personal intelligences”. To briefly describe them in turn:
Involves appreciation of language, the ability to learn new languages, and the capability to use language to accomplish certain goals. Those high in this intelligence may be good persuaders, story-tellers, and can use humor to their advantage.
Writers, poets, journalists, lawyers and politicians are among those likely to have high linguistic intelligence.
The capacity to analyze problems, carry out mathematical operations, and approach subjects scientifically. In Gardner's words, it entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. Along with linguistic intelligence it is what 'IQ' tests mainly measure.
This intelligence is often associated with scientists, researchers, mathematicians, computer programmers, accountants and engineers.
People with this intelligence actually think in terms of terms of sounds, rhythms and musical patterns. It encompasses skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns.
Typical occupations employing the intelligence: musician, disc jockey, singer, composer, music critic.
Involves the ability to control and coordinate complex physical movements, that is, to actually express oneself in terms of movement. This can include use of body language, mime, acting, as well as the full range of sporting pursuits.
This intelligence is expected to be particularly high in sports people, dancers, actors, jugglers, gymnasts but also professions where balance and coordination are vital e.g. Firefighting.
The ability to perceive objects within space accurately, or to have an idea of 'where things should go'. The work of sculptors and architects would call for a high degree of spatial intelligence, but also navigators, visual artists, interior designers, engineers.
The capacity to understand the objectives, motivations and desires of other people. It is instrumental in the building of relationships. Educators, marketing executives, salespeople and political figures are examples of individuals with high interpersonal intelligence, but also counselors who must be empathic.
The ability to understand the self with a heightened awareness of one's feelings and motivations. This intelligence helps us to develop an effective working model of ourselves and use our self-understanding to regulate our lives. Writers and philosophers tend to have this intelligence in abundance.
Gardner's theory presents a huge challenge to established educational models, because if you accept the idea that a person combine a unique array of 'intelligences', you would also require a carefully tuned educational and development system to enable their potential to be realized.
Gardner admits that psychology cannot directly dictate education policy, and that further study is required to prove the existence of multiple intelligences in the first place. Yet his general inference is that an education system which takes account of the specialness of each child cannot be a bad thing.
It can be argued that multiple intelligence theory has only been adopted because it mixes well with the self-esteem movement. If Ann doesn’t do very well on Algebra, but can play the piano beautifully, she is as intelligent as Mary who gets straight A's in Math. The theory seems to support the view that no one is better than anyone else in terms of being smarter, just 'different', which could be dismissed as a politically correct way of accounting for the genuine inequalities in children's abilities. In addition, implementation of the theory may require much time and effort teaching very little. For instance, a typical project to teach children about the ocean might ask them to write about fish (linguistic intelligence), draw a sea creature (spatial), ‘role play’ a sea creature (bodily-kinesthetic), use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast ships (logical), tap glasses with different amounts of water (musical), or design a ship in a group (interpersonal). All these activities may not actually teach children much about the ocean. Another criticism of MI theory is that while sounding like common sense, it is hard to prove one way or the other.
Yet to many teachers the MI way does make sense. They will often know a student is bright, even when they don't do well on conventional tests. Gardner is also careful to point out that his theory is just that, a theory, and he devotes considerable word-space to pointing out possible holes in his own model.
Will we always be measured in terms of 'IQ', or will Gardner's ideas overthrow current systems of intelligence testing, such as America's famous SAT test for college entry? Most people don't realize that intelligence testing has been with us for over a hundred years, with the first attempts at measurement devised by French psychologists Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon in 1905. It is a relatively easy and cheap way to sort large numbers of people according to 'merit', and has become well established as a result.
Yet the idea of multiple intelligences will not go away as long as people feel their true worth has not been recognized. The theory allows us to say that it is not we that are inadequate, but the system of testing which tried to pigeon-hole us. While this may sound like left-wing ideology, the fact is that many people have had their opportunities in life reduced unnecessarily by not doing well in standard tests.
What ultimately matters, surely, is not a supposedly objective test of intelligence, but our own beliefs of whether we are capable of something and our discipline to follow through. Gardner's academic language calls this the 'ability to solve problems within our environment'. The people we most admire are smart in certain ways; they have refined their way of thinking and doing to an unusual extent, so that they are 'all of a piece'. More than raw intelligence, they have judgment. Perhaps the lesson of Gardner’s book, therefore, is that we should stop worrying about how we measure up to some arbitrary standard of brain power; for the really smart people are those who know exactly what they are good at and live their life around that knowledge. There is a big distinction between simply possessing mental, physical or social abilities - and the actual deployment of them to achieve success. Ultimately, the measure of intelligence must go beyond aptitude, talent or thinking ability, and be appreciated as the capacity to succeed in life.
Source: 50 Psychology Classics: Who We Are, How We Think, What We Do. Insight and inspiration from 50 key books (Nicholas Brealey, London & Boston), Tom Butler-Bowdon.
"At long last a chance for those outside the profession to discover that there is so much more to psychology than just Freud and Jung. 50 Psychology Classics offer a unique opportunity to become acquainted with a dazzling array of the key works in psychological literature almost overnight".
Dr Raj Persaud, Consultant Psychiatrist, The Maudsley Hospital London, Gresham Professor for Public Understanding of Psychiatry
VS Ramachandran MD PhD, Professor and Director, Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego
Douglas Stone, Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, author of Difficult Conversations
LITERATURE OF POSSIBILITY NEWSLETTER
Reflections on the great teachings and lessons from self-development, psychology and philosophy. Free, please join!
Your details will not be shared with anyone.
Born in 1943, the son of refugees from Nazi Germany, Gardner initially went to Harvard University to study history, aiming for a career in law. After a year at the London School of Economics, he entered Harvard's developmental psychology doctoral program in 1966, and subsequently became part of the research team for Project Zero (a long-term study of human intellectual and creative development). His interest in human cognition was influenced by his tutor Erik Erikson.
Gardner is currently Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education; adjunct Professor of Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine; and Co-Director of Harvard's Project Zero. He has received many honorary degrees and awards.
Other books include The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts and Standardized Tests, Intelligence Reframed, Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet, Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds, The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach, and Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice.
--- parameterHolder: symfony/default: action: show edit: false module: sfSimpleCMS slug: Howard-Gardner-Frames-Of-Mind attributeHolder: symfony/default: culture: en
--- app_sfAssetsLibrary_upload_dir: media app_sf_guard_plugin_remember_key_expiration_age: 259200 mod_sfsimplecms_enabled: 1 mod_sfsimplecms_is_internal: mod_sfsimplecms_view_class: sfPHP propel_behavior_actasnestedset_sfSimpleCMSPage_columns: left: sf_simple_cms_page.TREE_LEFT right: sf_simple_cms_page.TREE_RIGHT parent: sf_simple_cms_page.TREE_PARENT scope: sf_simple_cms_page.TOPIC_ID sf_admin_web_dir: /sf/sf_admin sf_app: frontend sf_app_config_dir: /var/www/cms/apps/frontend/config sf_app_config_dir_name: config sf_app_dir: /var/www/cms/apps/frontend sf_app_i18n_dir: /var/www/cms/apps/frontend/i18n sf_app_i18n_dir_name: i18n sf_app_lib_dir: /var/www/cms/apps/frontend/lib sf_app_lib_dir_name: lib sf_app_module_action_dir_name: actions sf_app_module_config_dir_name: config sf_app_module_dir: /var/www/cms/apps/frontend/modules sf_app_module_dir_name: modules sf_app_module_i18n_dir_name: i18n sf_app_module_lib_dir_name: lib sf_app_module_template_dir_name: templates sf_app_module_validate_dir_name: validate sf_app_module_view_dir_name: views sf_app_template_dir: /var/www/cms/apps/frontend/templates sf_app_template_dir_name: templates sf_apps_dir_name: apps sf_autoloading_functions: sf_available: 1 sf_base_cache_dir: /var/www/cms/cache/frontend sf_bin_dir: /var/www/cms/batch sf_bin_dir_name: batch sf_cache: sf_cache_dir: /var/www/cms/cache/frontend/prod sf_cache_dir_name: cache sf_calendar_web_dir: /sf/calendar sf_charset: utf-8 sf_check_lock: sf_check_symfony_version: sf_compressed: sf_config_cache_dir: /var/www/cms/cache/frontend/prod/config sf_config_dir: /var/www/cms/config sf_config_dir_name: config sf_data_dir: /var/www/cms/data sf_data_dir_name: data sf_debug: sf_default_action: index sf_default_module: default sf_doc_dir: /var/www/cms/data/doc sf_doc_dir_name: doc sf_enabled_modules: - default - sfGuardAuth - sfSimpleCMS sf_environment: prod sf_error_404_action: error404 sf_error_404_module: default sf_error_reporting: 341 sf_escaping_method: ESC_ENTITIES sf_escaping_strategy: bc sf_etag: 1 sf_i18n: sf_i18n_cache_dir: /var/www/cms/cache/frontend/prod/i18n sf_in_bootstrap: 1 sf_lib_dir: /var/www/cms/lib sf_lib_dir_name: lib sf_log_dir: /var/www/cms/log sf_log_dir_name: log sf_logging_enabled: sf_logging_history: 10 sf_logging_level: err sf_logging_period: 7 sf_logging_purge: sf_logging_rotate: 1 sf_login_action: signin sf_login_module: sfGuardAuth sf_max_forwards: 5 sf_model_dir_name: model sf_model_lib_dir: /var/www/cms/lib/model sf_module_cache_dir: /var/www/cms/cache/frontend/prod/modules sf_module_disabled_action: disabled sf_module_disabled_module: default sf_no_script_name: 1 sf_orm: propel sf_path_info_array: SERVER sf_path_info_key: PATH_INFO sf_plugins_dir: /var/www/cms/plugins sf_plugins_dir_name: plugins sf_prototype_web_dir: /sf/prototype sf_rich_text_js_dir: js/tiny_mce sf_root_cache_dir: /var/www/cms/cache sf_root_dir: /var/www/cms sf_routing_defaults: sf_culture: en sf_secure_action: secure sf_secure_module: sfGuardAuth sf_standard_helpers: - Partial - Cache - Form sf_strip_comments: 1 sf_suffix: . sf_symfony_data_dir: /var/www/cms/config/../data/symfony sf_symfony_lib_dir: /var/www/cms/config/../lib/symfony sf_template_cache_dir: /var/www/cms/cache/frontend/prod/template sf_test: sf_test_cache_dir: /var/www/cms/cache/frontend/prod/test sf_test_dir: /var/www/cms/test sf_test_dir_name: test sf_timeout: 1800 sf_unavailable_action: unavailable sf_unavailable_module: default sf_upload_dir: /var/www/cms/web/uploads sf_upload_dir_name: uploads sf_url_format: PATH sf_use_database: 1 sf_use_flash: 1 sf_use_process_cache: 1 sf_use_security: 1 sf_validation_error_class: form_error sf_validation_error_id_prefix: error_for_ sf_validation_error_prefix: ↓ sf_validation_error_suffix: ↓ sf_web_debug: 1 sf_web_debug_web_dir: /sf/sf_web_debug sf_web_dir: /var/www/cms/web sf_web_dir_name: web
--- cookie: env: files: get: post: server: CONTEXT_DOCUMENT_ROOT: /var/www/cms/web CONTEXT_PREFIX: DOCUMENT_ROOT: /var/www/cms/web GATEWAY_INTERFACE: CGI/1.1 HTTP_ACCEPT: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING: x-gzip, gzip, deflate HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE: en-us,en-gb,en;q=0.7,*;q=0.3 HTTP_HOST: www.butler-bowdon.com HTTP_USER_AGENT: CCBot/2.0 (http://commoncrawl.org/faq/) PATH: /usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin PHP_SELF: /index.php QUERY_STRING: REDIRECT_STATUS: 200 REDIRECT_URL: /Howard-Gardner-Frames-Of-Mind REMOTE_ADDR: 18.104.22.168 REMOTE_PORT: 40735 REQUEST_METHOD: GET REQUEST_SCHEME: http REQUEST_TIME: 1441438813 REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT: 1441438813.799 REQUEST_URI: /Howard-Gardner-Frames-Of-Mind SCRIPT_FILENAME: /var/www/cms/web/index.php SCRIPT_NAME: /index.php SERVER_ADDR: 22.214.171.124 SERVER_ADMIN: [no address given] SERVER_NAME: www.butler-bowdon.com SERVER_PORT: 80 SERVER_PROTOCOL: HTTP/1.0 SERVER_SIGNATURE: | <address>Apache/2.4.7 (Ubuntu) Server at www.butler-bowdon.com Port 80</address> SERVER_SOFTWARE: Apache/2.4.7 (Ubuntu) session: lang: home
--- php: 5.5.9-1ubuntu4.5 os: Linux butler-bowdon 3.13.0-37-generic #64-Ubuntu SMP Mon Sep 22 21:28:38 UTC 2014 x86_64 extensions: - Core - date - ereg - libxml - openssl - pcre - zlib - bcmath - bz2 - calendar - ctype - dba - dom - hash - fileinfo - filter - ftp - gettext - SPL - iconv - mbstring - session - posix - Reflection - standard - shmop - SimpleXML - soap - sockets - Phar - exif - sysvmsg - sysvsem - sysvshm - tokenizer - wddx - xml - xmlreader - xmlwriter - zip - apache2handler - PDO - json - mysql - mysqli - pdo_mysql - readline - mhash - Zend OPcache