Ideas > Architects of the Intellect > Gardner: Multiple Intelligences
Gardner's gift to the classroom is in his conceptualization of intelligence as multifaceted and multidimensional (1983). He defines human potential in terms of the ability to solve problems in a culturally valued setting.
In light of this broad perspective, Gardner has identified eight realms of intelligence: verbal, logical, visual, musical, bodily, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. As seen in countless classrooms, these multiple intelligences work in various combinations as they converse and connect in the execution of complex tasks.
For example, envision a youngster planting a summer garden, and think of the many intelligences that must come into play. The gardener may think logically in the planning; interpersonally in getting advice about the proper seeds; visually in the laying out of the rows; as a naturalist in understanding the gestation periods of the seedlings; and intrapersonally in reflecting on the results.
In another situation, as high school boys build a rocket in physics class, they may tap into logical thinking as they sequence the parts, into visualization as they design the rocket, into interpersonal skills as they cooperate as a team, and into intrapersonal competence as they celebrate their success. The influence of Gardner's genius is felt in the understanding not only that there are many ways of knowing about the world and making personal meaning but also that there are many ways of expressing what one knows and is able to do.
The impact of this theory permeates the movement in educational evaluation . For example, a more authentic evaluation of students, known as performance assessment, is valued as an authentic measure of what students know and are able to do.
Students might perform, literally, in terms of driving a car in a simulated experience, executing a dance number, demonstrating a basketball move in athletics or by playing "Peter and the Wolf" on the flute. Yet, performance can be more subtle than that. Students might also perform by completing a persuasive essay or banning smoking in public buildings or in demonstrating the proper procedures for a lab setup in chemistry class.