What is the theory of MI?

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences is a critique of the standard psychological view of intellect: there is a single intelligence, adequately measured by IQ or other short answer tests.

 

Instead, on the basis of evidence from disparate sources, the theory claims that human beings have a number of relatively discrete intellectual capacities. 

 

Humans, however, have several other significant intellectual capacities.

Intelligences can be analogized to computers.  Multiple intelligences theory implies that human beings possess several relatively independent computers; strength in one computer does not predict strength (or weakness) with other computers.

 

What are the implications of MI?

There are two principal scientific implications of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences:

1) The intelligences constitute the human intellectual toolkit.

All human beings possess the capacity to develop the several intelligences. At any one moment, a human being will have a unique profile, because of both genetic (heritability) and experiential factors.

2) Each human being has a distinct intellectual profile. Identical twins will certainly have similar cognitive profiles. But the profiles will not be identical; even though the genetic constitution is the same. Identical twins have different experiences (even in utero!) and once born, each may be motivated to distinguish himself from his genetic clone.

There are also two chief educational implications of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences:

1) Individuation (also termed personalization) – Since each human being has her own unique configuration of intelligences, we should take that into account when teaching, mentoring or nurturing. As much as possible, we should teach individuals in ways that they can learn. And we should assess them in a way that allows them to show what they have understood and to apply their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts.

2) Pluralization – Ideas, concepts, theories, skills should be taught in several different ways. Whether one is teaching the arts, sciences, history, or math, the seminal ideas should be presented in multiple ways.

 

If you can present the art works of Michelangelo, or the laws of supply and demand, or the Pythagorean Theorem in several ways, you achieve two important goals. First of all, you reach more students, because some students learn best from reading, some from building something, some from acting out a story, etc. Second, you show what it is like to be an expert—to understand something fully, you should be able to think of it in several ways.

 

THE COMPONENTS OF MI

For something to qualify as an intelligence, it has to satisfy Howard Gardner’s eight “signs” of intelligence. After extensive research, Gardner identified eight, distinct intelligences.

SPATIAL

The ability to conceptualize and manipulate large-scale spatial arrays (e.g. airplane pilot, sailor), or more local forms of space (e.g. architect, chess player).

BODILY-KINESTHETIC

The ability to use one’s whole body, or parts of the body (like the hands or the mouth), to solve problems or create products (e.g. dancer, Athlete).

MUSICAL

Sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody and timbre. May entail the ability to sing, play musical instruments, and/or compose music (e.g. musical conductor).

LINGUISTIC

Sensitivity to the meaning of words, the order among words, and the sound, rhythms, inflections, and meter of words (e.g. poet, writer). (Sometimes called language intelligence.)

LOGICAL-MATHEMATICAL

The capacity to conceptualize the logical relations among actions or symbols (e.g. mathematicians, scientists). Famed psychologist Jean Piaget believed he was studying the range of intelligences, but he was actually studying logical-mathematical intelligence.

INTERPERSONAL

The ability to interact effectively with others. Sensitivity to others’ moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations (e.g. negotiator, sales person, marketing expert). (Sometimes called social intelligence.)

INTRAPERSONAL

Sensitivity to one’s own feelings, goals, and anxieties, and the capacity to plan and act in light of one’s own traits. Intrapersonal intelligence is not particular to specific careers; rather, it is a goal for every individual in a complex modern society, where one has to make consequential decisions for oneself. (Sometimes called self intelligence.)

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