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Multiple Intelligence Theory Essay

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Updated: Apr 15th, 2020


Traditionally, the key focus of the education system has been to give knowledge and assess the student’s ability to think. More than anything in history, the need to impart knowledge defines the very existence of learning institutions. The world has been in constant need of minds that continue to think critically.

Acquiring this art of critical thinking has primarily involved training of the “mental muscle” to memorize facts, learning to relate events and personalities. Such one-dimensional method in the last few decades has been under constant scrutiny, and a variety of theories have advanced. The very essence of the process has been questioned as well as more methods that involve direct experiences with teaching aids, social and physical products and interrogation of all the end product.


Not all the students think in the same way and as such it is hard to assess them by making them perform the same assignments, grading them with a standard rubric, expecting them to have the same hearing ability and feelings. Students give various answers to the same question, possess varying fantasies and have varying levels of knowledge absorption. Answering the needs of different students by a standard approach has been one of the challenges of 21st -century curriculum (McKenzie 173).

Howard Gardner questioned the educational curricula along those lines in 1983 and came to the conclusion that “ instead of one kind of general intelligence, there are at least seven different types, which include verbal intelligence, musical intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial intelligence, body movement intelligence, knowledge to understand oneself, and the ability to know others” (Plotnik 207). Even if Gardner never came with the multiple intelligence curricula, he has been quoted saying that he was sure there were lots of different classes of knowledge whose needs should be carefully taken into account when coming up with the curricula.

Multiple intelligence theory

MIT is an intelligence theory that seeks to group individual bits of information into modalities instead of classifying it as being dominated by learners’ general ability. Howard questioned whether all students could be graded purely in terms of writing, reading, and arithmetic skills. Every person has a mind of his own, and no two bits of intelligence are the same, thus, it would be a misnomer to grade an individual’s intelligence purely on those parameters.

His early work in human cognition and psychology initially led to the development of six bits of intelligence but has further been expanded to nine bits of intelligence. These bits of intelligence are verbal or linguistic intelligence, mathematical or logical intelligence, and the capacity to visualize in image form correctly and abstractly otherwise referred to as spatial or visual intelligence.

Additionally the ability to handle objects skillfully, musical intelligence and the capacity to relate and respond accurately to other people’s desires and moods were included. Finally the capacity to have and control self-awareness, ability to relate to natural surroundings and beings and question their existence was considered integral to Gardener’s theory. (Gardner Frames of Mind 87)

Support for Multiple Intelligence theory

In the latter decades of the twentieth century, intelligence constructs have became more involved. Intelligence tests have moved from IQ dominated constructs, and his theories are applied in educational settings throughout the world. Gardner definition of intelligence is the ability “to fashion products that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting or community” (Gardner Frames of Mind 246)

With such a broad scope in the way intelligence is defined, educators became aware of the need to accord their students the chance of experiencing the impartation of knowledge from a variety of ways. Devising diverse ways of doing ensured that all the needs of different learners are well taken care of (Plotnik 200).

When teachers approach teaching in multiple intelligence contexts, they discover that self-discovery initiative is a very crucial aspect of acquired knowledge. The mobilization of each and every skill held by the student in all the stages of learning is the primary characteristic realized by multiple intelligence teaching.

Well-poised allocation of tasks eases the process of learning and students can identify their abilities or the intelligence types that they excel in. Such a venture involves the use of aids in teaching that the tutor can effectively use to add to the contents of the syllabus.

In an ordinary set-up, the teacher is supposed to lecture seated students while they keenly listen to him or her and then perform any homework given without deviating from the script. In multiple intelligence approach, however, there are visual aids to help in teaching, singing to help the students relate, and organizing debates to hone the student’s oratory skills and other activities like drafting journals and drawing contests.

Using multiple intelligence theory should change the dynamics of teaching and introduce other angles previously unexplored by conventional methods. Incorporating the use of MIT in the classroom should be able to provide a wider range of enrichment experience to the students as the methods used are easier to relate to and less monotonous to follow. They use the experiences of different learners and their responses as stepping stones to enhancing the lesson and create vital fall back positions that would help the students remember by relating.

As Gardner further proposed the approaches stated above are not intended to assess who is gifted and who is not; they are designed to be processes of providing multiple ranges of understanding to different students (Multiple Intelligences 128-129).

There are many different ways of applying various bits of intelligence in the classroom and teachers subconsciously have been using them for a long time without realizing. Subject-specific lessons have been easier to come up with as teachers have recognized the importance of MIT. The transformation has involved the use of visual, kinesthetic and musical experiences in the teaching of sciences, the study of art, music and history in concurrence and building of topographical maps as a visual aide in the teaching of history and arts.

Future potential

Multiple intelligence theory has drawn the interest of all the stakeholders in the educational fraternity for a variety of reasons. MIT is easily adaptable enhancing its usability in the classroom by both teachers and learners. The broad range of adaptability also ensures that parents follow better the progress of their kids in school without having to be technically gifted. The second reason is that it helps teachers to create a diversified and personalized instructional experience.

MIT offers assistance to teachers to help the students bridge their cognitive techniques for a wider range of diversified skills and enhance their meta-cognitive understanding. Additionally it accords teachers the chance to promote a wider interpersonal, cultural and intrapersonal understanding.

Teachers nurture the natural talents of the students and help them thrive in their educational pursuits by careful application of MIT. Lastly, it provides a more fool-proof way of assessing the natural gifts of students, something that would be harder to discover through conventional classroom setting.

Classroom setup demands that teachers become very observant so as to identify every learner’s needs. Part of this intuition revolves around the feeling that their students are exceptionally gifted.

A chance to help them explore those hidden gifts in students is a very welcoming idea that would also boost their morale and help on their journey of self-discovery (Hoerr 317). MIT encourages teachers to take a more proactive role in the development of their learner’s abilities, a deviation from the conventional methods where students are taught not individually but as a group.


A more broad-based approach needs to assess a thorough understanding of the concepts and application of MIT. Such methods include activities like encouraging the elementary school learners to compose songs about mathematical concepts that would help in demystifying them and assist them in relating easily (Armstrong 61).

As the level of the learners advances, the level of skill increases and students at a higher level can create multimedia representations that combine compositions and writings of their degree. At higher levels in education curriculum, a student would be able to demonstrate understanding of MIT by way of art presentation and structured speech.

Gardner’s theory has received a fair share of criticism and elicited mixed feelings from multiple scholars. There is no consensus on the seven forms of intelligence and their relevance. While some of the forms are very important, others can easily be dispensed with without harming the end product. While some of the forms of intelligence mathematical intelligence are highly valued in developed countries, other countries tend to value kinesthetic intelligence as it is sacrosanct to their survival depending on region.

Garners inability to devise a scientific method of measuring the seven abilities has made the scientific community wary of MIT. The theory of multiple intelligence is based more on intuition and reasoning than in a way that empirical studies can scientifically point to its importance.

It has been noted that MIT is non-specific, and as such, educators can equate a change in students’ progress to its application while, in the actual sense, nothing was changed. Applying MIT in the classroom allows students to choose what they excel in. While allowing learners to choose their area of expertise is good, it also ensures that they do learn in areas that they consider their weaker points. In spite of such critical views against MIT, support for the theory amongst educators has been overwhelming.


The integration of the concepts proposed by Gardner and the use of teaching aids to help in teaching has become a major success in the field. Gardner asserts that it would be more helpful for students if educators employed a variety of methods instead of using a particular theory as doing so would open a world of possibilities, assertions that has held true. His theories have revolutionized the ways of teaching mainly to students with special needs. Despite having many opponents, multiple intelligence theory has revolutionized education by applying a broad based approach to gauge learners’ ability.

Works Cited

Armstrong, Thomas. Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. 3rd ed. Alexandria, Va.: ASCD, 2009. Print.

Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic, 1983. Print.

—. Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons. Completely Rev. and Updated. ed. New York: Basic, 2006. Print.

Hoerr, Thomas R. Becoming a Multiple Intelligences School. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2000. Print.

McKenzie, Walter. Intelligence Quest Project-based Learning and Multiple Intelligences. Eugene, Oregon. International Society for Technology in Education, 2012. Print.

Plotnik, Rod. Introduction to Psychology. 6th ed. Australia: Wadsworth Thomson Learning, 2002. Print.

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