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Multiple Intelligences Understanding Multiple Intelligences,
and How to Use Them in Your Classroom Rope worn thin

Be sure to read the complete 45 page research report, Education for the Real World. Other related information, as well as a Multiple Intelligences survey, can be accessed on my Submitted Papers page under the Program and Outcomes Assessment section.

Multiple Intelligences: How Are You Smart?

However, another element that should be considered and included in the flow of coursework is the theory of Multiple Intelligences, first proposed by Howard Gardner, a neuroscientist at Harvard University in the early 1980s. An interesting way of viewing this theory is not “how smart are you, but how are you smart?” According to Dr. Gardner, every individual has all of these intelligences to one degree or another. Intelligence, according to traditional standards, limit a person in one category: either that person is smart, or they are not smart.

Dr. Gardner’s revolutionary book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) was a radical divergence from many traditional ideas. He suggests that intelligence is based on multiple “frames”, all based entirely on an individual’s abilities. He also believes that genuine understanding is possible and be made readily evident to those who understand that students can possess any given number of ways concerning this knowledge. The intelligences, with Dr. Gardner’s own definitions, are divided into nine unique categories.

  1. Logical-mathematical: “People with highly developed logical/mathematical intelligences (math smart) understand the underlying principles of some kind of a causal system, the way a scientist or a logician does; or can manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations, the way a mathematician does.”

    This intelligence is especially seen in children and youth who are capable of performing mathematical functions mentally without the use of manipulatives, and in a quick manner. They are also able to be a model student to the rest of the class because they are in tune with the logics of the lesson that is being taught. They especially like the abstract, as opposed to the concrete, and this is seen by their reordering of objects in class. Many are classified as “human calculators” as they can memorize a multiplicity of numbers, such as credit cards, schedules, financial records and the like.

  2. Naturalistic: “Naturalist intelligence designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef. I also speculate that much of our consumer society exploits the natural intelligences, which can be mobilized in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like. The kind of pattern recognition valued in certain sciences may also draw upon the naturalist intelligence.”

    History bears records to many naturalists; preeminent among them are George Washington Carver and Charles Darwin. The student who enjoys looking at insects, shells, and other parts of creation, and can sort and classify them, would be described as having a naturalist intelligence. For this child, the great outdoors can provide hours of thought-provoking stimulation and enjoyment. Field trips and hikes in the woods, caring for pets, the use of observation instruments are what cause this person to derive tremendous pleasure because they provide a hands-on mechanism for learning.

  3. Bodily-kinesthetic: “Bodily/Kinesthetic intelligence, (body smart) is the capacity to use your whole body or parts of your body (your hands, your fingers, your arms), to solve a problem, make something, or put on some kind of production. The most evident examples are people in athletics or the performing arts, particularly when dancing or acting.” Detailed ability with fingers, hands, and feet describe this student. Their ability to work with objects precisely, whilst at the same time to use delicate movement causes this intelligence to be used for every specific purposes. The most common example of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are the professions of surgeons, doctors, plumbers, mime performers, and carpenters, to name just a few. Athletes are capable of using precise timing to improve their ability in a certain sport to become more accurate, fast and powerful. Dancers are capable of performing highly complex moves that appear very simple to execute with the greatest of ease and are aesthetically pleasing to the viewers.

    Children and youth with this intelligence enjoy touching objects, such as manipulatives; this is the way they learn. Students such as this cannot sit still for long periods of time, so they ought to have an object in their hands. Lest individuals think that this is hard to believe, corporations have found that having “toys” in the corporate boardroom increases productivity and creativity. This type of student needs to have something in their hands so that thinking and learning can take place.

  4. Linguistic: “Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart) is the capacity to use language, your native language, and perhaps other languages, to express what's on your mind and to understand other people. Poets really specialize in linguistic intelligence, but any kind of writer, orator, speaker, lawyer, or a person for whom language is an important stock in trade, highlights linguistic intelligence.”

    This intelligence focuses especially on the use of grammar and word choice. Words that are memorized can be used for entertainment, persuasion, and explanation. The intelligence that is most often found in educators is the linguistic intelligence; people understand with words. However, teachers with the linguistic intelligence must communicate on a level that is compatible with the audience. In order for students to more fully develop this intelligence, students should be presented regularly with the opportunity to read, write, and give presentations concerning issues and ideas that are important in their lives. Sports, media, and music interests are among some of the best in this area.

  5. Spatial: “Spatial intelligence refers to the ability to represent the spatial world internally in your mind – the way a sailor or airplane pilot navigates the large spatial world, or the way a chess player or sculptor represents a more circumscribed spatial world. “Spatial intelligence can be used in the arts or in the sciences. If you are spatially intelligent and oriented toward the arts, you are more likely to become a painter or sculptor or architect than, say, a musician or a writer. Similarly, certain sciences like anatomy or topology emphasize spatial intelligence.”

    Spatial intelligence gives a person the ability to manipulate and create mental images in order to solve problems. Spatial thinkers "perceive the visual world accurately, to perform transformations and modifications upon one's initial perceptions, and to be able to re-create aspects of one's initial perceptions, even in the absence of relevant physical stimuli”. Spatial intelligence can lend itself to the ability of visual perception, while lacking in the ability to draw, imagine, or transform or vice versa.

    Architects, navigators, hunters, painters, and sculptors possess this intelligence. Those with spatial intelligence often like to play chess, have a vivid use of color, and envision the world differently. The spatial learner enjoys videos, overheads, diagrams, and should be strongly encouraged to draw what they visualize. This intelligence deals with what is tangible, and is compatible with the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

  6. Interpersonal: “Interpersonal intelligence, (people smart) is understanding other people. It’s an ability we all need, but is at a premium if you are a teacher, clinician, salesperson, or a politician. Anybody who deals with other people has to be skilled in the interpersonal sphere.”

    If one sees an effusive, outgoing extrovert, a safe guess is the interpersonal intelligence. Teachers, religious and political leaders, guidance counselors, and even cult leaders rank high on the interpersonal intelligence. This ability if encouraged through working together on cooperative learning projects; observation and experience are encouraged to further develop this intelligence.

  7. Intrapersonal: “Intrapersonal intelligence, (self smart) refers to having an understanding of yourself, of knowing who you are, what you can do, what you want to do, how you react to things, which things to avoid, and which things to gravitate toward. We are drawn to people who have a good understanding of themselves because those people tend not to screw up. They tend to know what they can do. They tend to know what they can’t do. And they tend to know where to go if they need help.”

    Self-respect, discipline, inward motivation, imagination, and originality are developed from internal resources. Children such as these need frequent praise and reinforcement that comes in the normal classroom. Projects that are done in stages and need to be checked for thoroughness and completion will ensure that patience and procedure are learned more completely. The mental visualization of organization, and then “making it happen” are typical with those who tend to focus internally.

  8. Musical: “Musical Rhythmic Intelligence, (music smart), is the capacity to think in music, to be able to hear patterns, recognize them, and perhaps manipulate them.

    “People who have strong musical intelligence don't just remember music easily - they can't get it out of their minds, it's so omnipresent. Now, some people will say: "Yes, music is important, but it's a talent, not an intelligence." And I say, "Fine, let's call it a talent. But, then we have to leave the word intelligent out of the conversation and out of all discussions of human abilities. You know, Mozart was pretty smart!”

    Pitch and rhythm, meter, a full use of sounds (predominantly musical) are realized at a young age. The young person who can sing, versus the one who cannot, are readily apparent from the very first day. Musical intelligence students learn to read music, are engaged in critiques, and use musical-critical categories. Music and the furtherance of education should be highly desired because it captures feelings, a needed trait for educating children. Music, because it can be used for other intelligences as well, should be valued, especially in the logical-mathematical intelligence, as it furthers numbers and counting ability.

  9. Existential: “Individuals who exhibit the proclivity to pose (and ponder) questions about life, death, and ultimate realities.”

    Because this intelligence is open to consideration, this intelligence is being left closed for discussion, as the theory of multiple intelligences is still in its infancy.

The idea of multiple intelligences is a theory, not a classroom methodology. Each person will possess all of the multiple intelligences, and is capable of using them, by understanding what they have and through the nurturing affects within the classroom. A teacher who uses these abilities will find that there can be any number of effects by more effectively utilizing this flexible way of learning, such as

  • A more complex understanding of concepts through multiple depictions, rather than being limited to simply one idea;
  • All students will be more inclined to enjoy their learning experiences rather than through the humdrum of lecture;
  • Focus on a students’ distinguishing strong points, encouraging more diversity in the classroom;
  • A creative experimentation with learning ideas and the student’s ability to contribute.

An enlightening way of ascertaining what intelligences each student has is to provide a survey, included in this report in the appendix. It is a four page survey that has been adapted slightly, based on the author’s permission in the copyright.

However, with the drive that currently exists in the classroom to prepare our students for a technology-driven society and workplace, one must consider implementing the phenomenon of multiple intelligences and technology side-by-side.

More than 30% of all students in the classroom are visual learners, which means that they learn better through the use of pictures, images, graphic organizers, and the like. Neuroscientists have discovered that the brain is capable of responding immediately to visual sources, rather that through the auditory senses only. Because technology is rapidly taking over our classrooms, the art forms can have an exciting allure, thereby encouraging a high output of artistic expression. Because there are some children with the visual/spatial intelligence, the facets of technology through which they can learn causes their motivation to become highly stimulated, as well as enabling their problem-solving abilities to be cultivated.

The technology-rich society in which we live offers a veritable smorgasbord of practically everything visual. Although some who are auditory learners may be inundated by what they see and understand, for those who have the visual spatial intelligence, it can prove to be one of life’s most rewarding experiences in learning. Those who possess a strong linguistic/verbal intelligence can be engaged in tasks that open the virtual vocabulary world; these would enable this type of student to learn word etymology and its proper use, learning how to contribute in his own writing journal, learning other world languages, and even improving spelling. Studies have shown that students who are not especially good at spelling can be encouraged to incorporate this task into games found online. The pictures, sounds, and words that can be integrated into daily learning activities from such sources can be further improved through the use of word processors, thereby even improving spelling, writing abilities, while at the same time teaching them to use available technology.

Intrapersonal intelligence students provide individual attention and learning; in some cases, instant feedback may also be provided. Self-pacing and individual responsibility allows students to explore and learn at their own pace. When these two independent ideas are merged into one aspect of learning, a higher quality, more in-depth and thoughtful work emerges. This contributes to more positive factors in standardized test results when students feel that they are able to contribute further into newer frontiers of their own learning.

With students having the interpersonal intelligence, collaboration with fellow students, in addition to others available around the world in a virtual setting provides them the opportunity to have online mentors in learning about facets of cultural studies, or the opportunity to have an email pen pal. This is possible because interpersonal intelligence students are willing to overcome any barriers necessary to language barriers. Even those with physical challenges are more than able to overcome any obstacles in the virtual world with the multiplicity of tools available currently.

Bodily-kinesthetic learners are especially attuned to computer usage, as their motor skills are able to become more finely tuned. Companies are in the process of developing software that will allow students to more effectively develop this intelligence, in addition to hardware that intertwines bodily activities and mathematics through the use of haptic devices, tools that involve force and the sense of touch.

And not to be outdone, for those with a squeamish stomach, those with the naturalist intelligence can learn though the virtual frog dissection, instead of the actual “hands-on” participation common in most laboratories!

In keeping with providing opportunities for students in the classroom to learn and expand their intelligences, many software programs are currently in existence and used on a regular basis by businesses that are also available for use by the students themselves. The following is a sampling at what can be more fully utilized. Included in this project is a series of pages concerning how to more fully utilize Multiple Intelligences in the classroom on a practical basis.

    Verbal Intelligence:
  • Word processing/desktop publishing (Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect)
  • E-mail programs (Microsoft Outlook Express; Eudora)
  • Web Page Composers (Netscape Composer; the most popular program is WordPad)
  • Multimedia Presentation tools (Microsoft PowerPoint)
  • Typing programs (Mindscape’s Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing)
  • Spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel)
  • Map Making tools
  • Databases (Microsoft Access)
  • Science programs
  • Critical thinking programs
  • Problem Solving programs
    Visual/Spatial Intelligence:
  • Animation programs (GIF Animation Factory)
  • 3D modeling languages (Sim City 2000)
  • Clip Art programs
  • Computer-aided visualizations (AutoCAD)
  • Digital Cameras and Microscopes
  • Draw & Paint programs (Paint Shop Pro by Jasc; Photo Shop by Adobe)
  • Electronic chess games (Chess Master 4000)
  • Spatial problem solving games
  • Electronic puzzle kits
  • Geometry programs
  • Digital Imagery/Graphics Programs
  • Virtual Courseware
    Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence:
  • Hands-on construction kits that interface with computers
  • Motion-simulation games
  • Virtual reality system software
  • Eye-Hand coordination games
  • Tools that plug into computers
  • Haptic tools (tools that involve force and the sense of touch)
    Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence:
  • Music literature tutors
  • Singing software (voice synthesizers)
  • Tone recognition and melody enhancers
  • Musical instrument digital interfaces (commonly called MIDI)
  • Create Your Own Music Programs
    Interpersonal Intelligence:
  • Electronic bulletin boards
  • Simulation games
  • E-mail programs
    Intrapersonal Intelligence:
  • Personal choice software
  • Career counseling software
  • Any self-paced program
  • Downloadable multi-media applets
    Naturalist Intelligence:
  • Scientific plug-ins
  • Nature sound and/or image files
  • Classification of Flora/Fauna software
  • Animal sounds identification programs
  • Earth Science programs
    Existential Intelligence:
  • If there were programs that deal with Socratic questioning, they would fall into this category
  • Software such as the "Dr. Brain" series incorporates many of the above intelligences
  • Web sites that incorporate any/all of the above
  • Videodiscs in any discipline can draw students into a topic in which they may not otherwise be interested.
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