• Linguistic: facility with verbal materials (writer, attorney).
• Logico-mathematical: the ability to use logical methods and to solve mathematical problems (mathematician, scientist).
• Spatial: the ability to use and manipulate space (sculptor,
• Musical: the ability to create, perform, and appreciate music (performer, composer).
• Bodily-kinesthetic: the ability to use one’s body (athlete, dancer).
• Interpersonal: the ability to understand others’ needs, intentions, and motivations (salesperson, politician).
• Intrapersonal: the ability to understand one’s own motivations and emotions (novelist, therapist with self-insight).
• Naturalist: the ability to recognize, identify, and classify flora and fauna or other classes of objects (naturalist, cook).
Teaching children to spell words using twigs and leaves is supposed to help children with high “naturalistic intelligence,” while “bodily-kinesthetic” brains are supposed to learn if they can stand for the vowels and sit for the consonants. (These ideas come from Thomas Armstrong’s Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom.)
In Education Next, Daniel T. Willingham, a University of Virginia psychology professor, critiques both the theory and its influence on education. If Gardner had described different “talents or “abilities,” nobody would have paid much attention, writes Willingham. The use of “intelligence” led educators to believe that all abilities are equal: Maybe Johnny can’t read or calculate, but he’s got great social and athletic “intelligence” to make up for it. Teachers now are encouraged to appeal to every “intelligence” on Gardner’s list in their lessons, which is exhausting, if nothing else.
Gardner himself doesn’t endorse most of the uses of his theory, but it seems to be out of his control.
It is also understandable that readers believed that some of the intelligences must be at least partially interchangeable. No one would think that the musically talented child would necessarily be good at math. But refer to the child as possessing “high musical intelligence,” and it’s a short step to the upbeat idea that the mathematics deficit can be circumvented by the intelligence in another area — after all, both are intelligences.
In the end, Gardnerís theory is simply not all that helpful. For scientists, the theory of the mind is almost certainly incorrect. For educators, the daring applications forwarded by others in Gardner’s name (and of which he apparently disapproves) are unlikely to help students.
Via Chris Correa.