The Theory Of Multiple Intelligence

Posted on December 30, 2009 in Education

Romana Sohail:

Despite the exotic name, a better future of the world lies in the implementation of this theory in the real world. With the potential of causing dramatic benefits to the different fields of life, it shall not only unleash the hidden talents of many people, but also become the milestone for many future discoveries.

First presented by Howard Gardner at the Harvard University in 1983, the basic idea of this theory is that it is too simplistic to classify a person as smart, average or dumb on the basis of an IQ or a standardized test. The reason is that these tests fail to account for the fact that intelligence cannot be quantified and thus is impossible to be tested by any “one-size-fits-all” technique.

It is sad to find that the common conception of intelligence lies at the conjunction of “linguistic” and “logical intelligence”. Thus when we talk of somebody as intelligent, we are either referring to the flowery prose, engaging fiction, or the emotive poetry written by him/her or we are alluding to a prodigy at mathematics, physics or a great chess player. We tend to confine the notion of genius and intelligent people to the math wizards and great writers, but fail to recognize the great wisdom inherent in the works of all the great musicians, players, dancers and other talented people. It is rather ironic that even if we recognize their talents, we never tend to accept the fact that they are really intelligent people. All we tend to think is that they probably landed into this job because they were no good at Math or languages in school.

But according to Howard Gardner, the intelligence profile of all the people living in the world can be categorized into eight categories:

1. Logical intelligence

2. Linguistic intelligence

3. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (to use the body in an intelligent manner e.g. the athletes and ballet dancers)

4. Spatial intelligence (to remember things just the way they saw them miraculously)

5. Naturalistic intelligence (to classify, identify and recognize the different fluora and fauna in the environment)

6. Intra Personal intelligence (to understand the inner feelings and emotions of one’s own inner self)

7. Inter-personal intelligence (to interact with the other people in the different matters of life)

8. Musical intelligence (to recognize the different rhythms, rhymes and to learn the musical instruments effectively in short spans)

Since the day this theory was presented by the Harvard psychologist, it has faced a lot of criticism mainly on the grounds that it is not practical. The critics deemed it nothing more than a wild imagination and utopian thinking of psychologist. But recently, quite many people have not only expressed an interest in this theory but have even ventured to apply it in the educational institutions called the multiple intelligence schools.

This might raise questions in one’s mind that how are such institutions better than the traditional schools following the conventional study patterns and the age-old testing techniques. Well, there are quite a many differences between the two. I shall focus on two most distinguishing ones.

It is a well known reality that the moment the students enter into the traditional schools they are made to face the bitter hierarchy that of an unjustifiable division between the smarter ones and the dumb students based on the pre-conceived notions of intelligence. Contrarily, in multiple intelligence classroom no such differences are present because every single student in the classroom is intelligent but in his or her own way for example, a student who is good at playing guitar is thought to be at par with the math prodigy. As a result every single individual is able to recognize the true potential and harnesses it in the best way possible.

Moreover, the assessment patterns in the multiple intelligence classrooms go beyond the routine quizzes of the traditional systems which are always obsessed by their pre-occupation with achievement. However, in the multiple intelligence institutions the knowledge of student is tested in better ways like presentations, projects, port-folios and even by putting them into real life scenarios.

Thus in order to bring the best out of every individual in this world, I think that the implementation of the multiple intelligence theory is the way to go!

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The writer is the Pakistan correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz and also a student of Science.


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