Rethinking intelligence, and teaching

Rethinking intelligence, and teaching

The backlash against standardised tests in the U.S has led to an unprecedented education rebellion.

At the core of the rebellion is the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI), which was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University.

The theory proposes that each of us have eight intelligences which each work together and may explain why not everyone’s learning – or teaching - preferences are the same.

Thomas Armstrong’s 2009 book Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom provides an insight into MI and how teaching practices can vary depending on the makeup of the classroom.

‘In the traditional classroom, the teacher lectures while standing at the front of the classroom, writes on the blackboard, asks students questions about the assigned reading or handouts, and waits while students finish their written work’, Armstrong wrote.

‘In the MI classroom, while keeping her educational objective firmly in mind, the teacher continually shifts her method of presentation from linguistic to spatial to musical and so on, often combining intelligences in creative ways.’

Gardner believes education must take into account two contrasting yet complimentary considerations: What we know about the human condition and learning from history, and what we know about the pressures, challenges and opportunities of today and the future.

Gardner refers to education as a “broad endeavor”, saying that a range of intelligences must be taken into account when teaching.

“It encompasses motivation, emotions, and social and moral practices and values, and unless these facets of the person are considered and incorporated into daily practices, ‘education’ is likely to be ineffective,” Gardner told Stern Speakers.

The eight intelligences are as follows:
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”)
Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)