Last Updated 24 Mar 2020

The Multiple Intelligence Theory

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Developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardener, a professor at the very prestigious Harvard University, the multiple intelligence theory states that testing a person’s intelligence through IQ tests is very restricting. In his very popular work, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence, Dr. Howard Gardner cited eight kinds of intelligence that are innate in men- linguistic intelligence (“word smart”); logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”); spatial intelligence (“picture smart”); bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”); musical intelligence (“music smart”); interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”); intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”); and naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”) (Armstrong, 2000).

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Those who possess the logical-mathematical intelligence would usually end up as a scientist or mathematician. They are mostly sensitive to and have the capacity to differentiate logical and numerical patterns (Gardner & Hatch, 1989, being well versed with everything that has something to do with logic, abstractions, inductive and deductive reasoning and most of all, numbers. Because of this, they are said to be excellent in mathematics, chess, computer programming and other activities that involves numbers and logic ( They also have the ability to handle long chains of reasoning (Gardner & Hatch, 1989).

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Linguistic Intelligence

Those who possess this form of intelligence on the other hand are most likely to end up as poets and journalists for it has got something to do with words, be it spoken or written. These are the people who are sensitive to sounds, rhythms and of course, the meanings of different words. Likewise, these people are very knowledgeable in the different functions of language (Gardner & Hatch, 1989).

They are good in reading, writing and even telling stories. At the same time, they are good in memorizing dates and words (, 2007). They rely on taking notes, reading, listening to lectures, discussions and debates as their primary source of knowledge. These people are said to learn foreign languages easily, having a very high verbal memory and the capacity to understand the structure of words and sentences.

Musical Intelligence

People having musical intelligence tend to become composers, violinist, musicians, singers, etc. They have the ability to produce and at the same time, appreciate rhythm, pitch and timbre together with the appreciation of the different forms through which music is expressed (Gardner & Hatcher, 1989). Those who also possess this kind of intelligence tend to learn and memorize different types of information through the use of music. More often than not, they work efficiently and effectively with music playing in the background (, 2007).

Spatial Intelligence

Possessing this kind of intelligence, a person may end up as a navigator, sculptor as they are good in visualizing and mentally manipulating objects (, 2007). With this perception comes their accuracy in performing transformation based on their perceptions (Gardner & Hatch, 1989).

Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Those who possess this kind of intelligence, on the other hand end up as athletes or dancers, as this has something to do with movement. People who are intelligent based on this often prefer activities that make use of body movements, which make them also good in building and making things. They remember things through their body, making use of what is known as muscle memory (Gardner & Hatcher, 1989).

Interpersonal Intelligence

Possessing this type of intelligence makes one individual a future therapist or salesman, having the capacity to respond to the moods, temperaments, motivations and desires of other people (Gardner & Hatcher, 1989).  They are usually extroverts who excel so much in interacting with others.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

They end up to be a person with detailed, accurate, self knowledge that could access one’s feelings and be able to draw them in guiding behavior, strengths, weaknesses, etc (Gardner & Hatcher, 1989).

Education and the Multiple Intelligence Theory

The concept of intelligence permeates our day to day lives just like any other psychological concept. Before completing and even entering an institute of education, students are asked to complete and aptitude exam that would measure their intelligence quotient or IQ that could determine their preparedness and capacity to learn in institutions like the one they are applying in. Intelligence tests have been a very important tool that is being used in most educational institutions that place a very high importance on the relationship between intelligence and education (Wagner & Sternberg, 1984)

According to Dr. Gardner, most of the schools and cultures tend to focus more on the linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences of its pupils thus raising the self esteem levels of individuals who are well versed in their language, of individuals who know so much about math, individuals who are expert in reasoning. The different cultures and societies fail to recognize the achievements and intelligence of those people who have display other types of intelligence- the artists, architects, musicians, designers, athletes, and those other who truly show their importance in the other aspects of the society (Armstrong, 2000).

It is also because of the societies focus on the linguistic and logical-mathematic intelligence that schools are unable to address the needs of students who are not gifted with these kinds of intelligence. Unfortunately, those who have not been giving due recognition for the intelligence they have [as they possess other kinds of intelligence apart from those society deems very important] usually suffer ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder (Armstrong, 2000).

As Gardner reiterated in his study of MI theory, an individual is mechanically equipped with unique intelligence to cope up in a diverse cultural society. It provides students with options to success and recognition for whatever talents they have. Linguistic intelligence and personal intelligence gives great opportunities for individuals in a globally competitive society. The structural views of education are now diverse in regarding intelligence out of just the normal scope of intelligence.

The multiple intelligence theory is said to be a threat to formal education, a death knell as they say, believing that teaching to address a single kind of intelligence is already hard. However, most schools have actually responded positively to Gardner’s theory as it is said to validate educator’s everyday experience, recognizing the difference in the way students think and learn.

At the same time, educators have recognized the possession of the seven kinds of intelligence as a necessity in living life well. It is for this reason that teachers are being called to attend to all kinds of intelligence, not just the two kinds of intelligence traditionally addressed by educators and educational institutions (Smith, 2002).

MI is a means to foster high quality work. MI should be used as a tool to promote a high quality of education instead of just a theory (Smith, 2002). Creativity is promoted in the nuance of education and by which it helps the production of more creative ideas to continually support the existing knowledge we learn in school. Students are also encouraged to learn beyond the four walls of the classroom, in preparing them for the real world. They are equipped with facts that they could apply in their day-to-day lives.

Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory has inspired a lot of schools to undergo educational reforms that could help raise the quality of education. According to Thomas Armstrong (2000), several methods have been incorporated in teaching academic topics. For example, the study of the law of supply and demand in economics does not just involve linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences such as studying by reading about it and the mathematical expressions by which the law is expressed.

In the study, spatial intelligence is also incorporated through examination of graphic charts, observing the laws of the natural world (naturalist), the human world of commerce (interpersonal), the law in terms of one’s own body (bodily-kinesthetic and intrapersonal) or even the writing/finding a song that proves the accuracy of the law of supply and demand.

It is for this reason that numerous schools have redesigned their curriculum to satisfy the needs of the people possess different types of intelligence. Arts PROPEL, in the US have developed a series of modules that serve the goals of the curriculum as well as the needs of its students. MI is a means to foster high quality work. Using MI as a tool to promote high quality student work rather than using the theory as an end in and of itself (Smith, 2002).

Creativity is promoted in the nuance of education and by which it helps the production of more creative ideas to continually support the existing knowledge we learn in school. Students are also provided not only to think inside of the boundaries of the classroom but rather prepare them in the real world and set them in more ways than one. One which is only equipped with facts but not able to apply it in situations he or she faces.

In the same way, Patricia Bolanos designed a public school in Indianapolis that supports the multiple intelligence theory. The curriculum is designed in such a way that it helps in finding the kind of intelligence a student is said to be possessing and at the same time, guide them in enriching what they have.

Through the different steps that these schools have taken, they have in a way, considered the role of people who exhibit other kinds of intelligence. At the same time, the theory of multiple intelligence has become of vital importance to language teachers as it has allowed them to examine their teaching methods and how it effectively caters the need of their students. Different approaches shall be used in order to address the intelligence profiles of the students. Once again, the said theory has been responsible in enhancing the curriculum design, lesson planning and program development of various schools (Zulkuf Altan, 2001).


The rise of Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory has lead to different reactions by the academe and psychologists, considering its importance in every day lives. Schools require students to meet a certain score in their achievement tests before allowing them to enter into their respectable institutions. It showed the society that other intelligences, aside the two traditional ones that have been regarded as important in the society is important and should also be taken into consideration. Students have different interests, react to different subject matters and topics and of course, adopt different ways of taking in information (Gardner, 1995)..

It is for this reason that educational institutions nowadays have readjusted their curriculum, in their hopes to cater to artistic, musical, body intelligences, etc. It is believed that it is only through this that schools could properly respond to the needs of their students having possessed a different type of intelligence, aside from the traditional, more popular ones (Gardner, 1995).

With the multiple intelligence theory, various learning-styles have been built on particular sense modalities such as auditory, visual and kinesthetics, believing that it is only through this that educators may transmit the lesson and information to the brains of their students without giving them a hard time, giving them the access to information that could best meet their needs (Gardner, 1995).


Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple Intelligences. Retrieved October 21, 2007


Klein, P.D. (1997). Multiplying the Problems of Intelligence by Eight: A Critique of       Gardner’s Theory. Retrieved October 21, 2007 from Jstor Database

Gardner, H. (1995). Multiple Intelligences as a Catalyst. English Journal Vol. 84

No.8. p.8. retrieved October 21, 2007 from Jstor Database

Gardner, H. and Hatch, T. (1989) Multiple Intelligence Go to School Educational           Implications    of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, by Howard Gardner. Educational          Researcher.     Volume 8. No. pp.4-10. Retrieved October 21, 2007        from Jstor Database

Smith, Mark. (2002). Howard gardner, multiple intelligences and education.                    Retrieved October 20, 2007 from
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2007). Multiple intelligences,

Retrieved on   October 20, 2007 from  

Zulkuf Altan, M. (2001). Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st         Century, Review. TESOL Quarterly: Vol. 35, No. 1, p. 35. Retrieved October 21,     2007    from Jstor Database



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