V/ hélﬂb Ci‘) uie
t is a well known fact that all human beings are
different. Our differences are evident in our physical
Qfeatures, in our temperament and character, in our
different abilities, in the way we perceive the world.
What makes us think that there is a unique way to
learn or to measure that learning?
By the mid-eighties, based on previous studies and
ﬁndings from different ﬁelds, research carried out by
Professor Howard Gardner, from Harvard University, led to the
formulation of his Theory of Multiple lnte| ligences. This new concept is changing
the way intelligence is being considered and assessed. The widely used IQ test,
based on the concept of an intelligence quotient, takes into account only verbal-
linguistic and logical-mathematical skills. A new approach to teaching also started
to be considered.
In his book ‘Frames of mind'(1 933) Professor Gardner distinguishes seven kinds of
intelligence, each related to a speciﬁc area of our brains: verbal/ linguistic,
logical/ mathematical, spatial, musical, kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal.
In 1996, he added an eighth form, the ‘naturalist intelligencetand he is at
present doing research on other forms.
Kindﬁ of” mlelli ence:
Verballlinguistic: t capacity to ‘use language
effectively as a vehicle of expression and
Logical/ mathematical: the capacity to
‘think logically, use numbers
effectively, solve problems
scientiﬁcally and discern
relationships and patterns
between concepts and things’.
Spatial/ visual: the ‘capacity to
think visually and orient
oneself spatially’. Also the
ability to ‘graphically
represent visual and spatial
Musical: ‘the capacity to
appreciate a variety of
musical forms‘ (and of) ‘using
music as a vehicle of
Bodily/ klnesthetlc: the
capacity of ‘using one's own
body skillfully as a means of
expression or to work skillfully to
create or manipulate objectsi
Interpersonal: ‘the capacity to
appropriately and effectively respond to
other people and understand their feelings’.
lntrapersonal: ‘the capacity to accurately know
one's self, including knowledge of one's strengths,
motivations, goals and feelingsC(Gardner, op. cit. l 983)
Naturalist: it has to do with ‘observing, understanding and
organizing patterns in the natural environment‘. (Campbell, 1997)
All these forms do not work separately but as a combination. This combination
results in the unique form each individual has of approaching knowledge and
determines different learning styles.
Professor Gardner deﬁnes intelligence as ‘the ability to solve problems or to create
products that are valued within one or more cultural settings'(l98S). He stresses
the importance of considering the individual‘s particular context, and the
opportunities this context provides him" because ‘Intelligence is always an
interaction between biological proclivities and opportunities for learning in a
particular cultural context’. (‘lnte| |igence in Seven Steps',1991). And he introduces
the concept of ‘distributed intelligence: that is, that ‘not all intelligence is in the
head. (. ..) much of everyday intelligence can be located in the human and non-
human resources with which individuals work, and on which they come to
depend in their productive work’.
The application of the theory of Multiple lntelligences is under way, especially in
US schools. Some teachers have developed learning centers that correspond will
each intelligence identiﬁed by Gardner. They work with thematic and
interdisciplinary curricula. (Campbe| l, 1989). Research results obtained so far shov
increased student independence, responsibility and leadership, improvement in
behavioral problems at school and at home, development of cooperative skills, a
more positive attitude towards school, better retention, and a change in the role
of the teacher from directive to more facilitative and guiding. (Campbe| |,l 990)
Some teachers have recorded their experiences as regards their application of th
M. I.theory and are an excellent source of reference. (See‘Deve| oping Students‘
Multiple lntelligences‘ by Kristen Nicholson-Nelson).
l'lou1 oloeé l3lii§ 8f“1EQc'l} our’ -lieélcliin [.3
The conception of multiple intelligences change fundamentally the way we
approach teaching in general and, in our case, foreign language
teaching . The unique combination of intelligence forms
each learner has to approach knowledge results in
different learning styles. Our task is to try to
present the teaching target from different
angles, stimulating all or most of the
intelligences, discovering ‘the
differences among kids’ and tryiingj
to use that knowledge to
‘personalize instruction and
assessment’ , avoiding, at the
same time, labelling our
students as belonging to
(intelligence in Seven
2 This conception implies
important changes in the
y. .. way we plan and deliver
our classes. But also the
reward of making our
personalized and inclusive,
more motivating, of
developing new tools to
know our students -and
ourselves— better, thus giving
the learning experience more
opportunities to achieve success.
Reforonces and further reading:
Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mlnd: The
Theory of Multiple lntelligences. New York.
Basic Books, 1984.
Gardner, Howard. Intelligence in Seven Steps.
Creating the Future. Perspectives on Educational
Change. Compiled and Edited by Dee Dickinson.
www. newhorizons. org/ crfut_gardnei: htmI
Campbell, Bruce. The Research Results of a Multiple lntelligences Classroom
New Horizons for Learning "On the Beam". 1990.
www. newhorizons. org/ art_mireserch. htmI
Campbell, Bruce. The Naturalist Intelligence. The'TooIroom.
www. newhorizons. org/ arricle_eightintelhrml
Nicholson-Nelson, Kristen. Developing Students‘ Multiple lntelligences. Scholastic
Professional Books. 1998.
Durie, Ronnie. An Interview with Howard Gardner on the Eighth Intelligence.
www. newhorizons. org/ trm_durlemi. hrml
Sempsey, James. ‘l’he Pedagogical Implications of Cognitive Science and Howard
Gardner's M. I.Theory (A Critique) www. netaxs. cam-jamesiiigardner. htm
April issue: How to identify our students’ intelligence I