Thinking Like Howard

Howard Earl Gardner was born July 11, 1943 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and is an American psychologist at Harvard University. He is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences. His parents were born and raised in Nazi Germany, and in 1938 fled the country with their first son Erik who died at a very early age before Howard was born in and accident. Howard’s parents never spoke of the death of his brother or about their immigration to the United States. They did not allow Howard to play any sports. He was however allowed to play the piano and was so accomplish, he considered a career as a pianist. 

In 1961, Howard entered Harvard with the intent to study History, but after meeting Erik Erikson, changed his major to social relations. Howard had a keen interest in clinical psychology, and after meeting Jerome Bruner and Jean Piaget, changed his major once again to cognitive psychology. Howard finished in PhD in 1971 at Harvard and wrote a dissertation on style sensitivity in children.

In 1971, Dr Gardner partnered with Nelson Goodman established project zero in arts education. This project was originally established in 1967 and was devoted to the systematic study of artistic thought and creativity in arts. It also focused on the humanistic and scientific disciplines. Dr Gardner is involved with the project to this day.

In 1983, Dr Gardner put forth the idea of multiple intelligences which is the idea that there are many different types of intelligence in humans. Dr Gardner suggests that each individual manifests different levels of intelligences giving each person a unique cognitive profile. Dr Gardner first posited this theory in his book: Frames of Mind: the Theory of Multiple Intelligence, which has been refined considerably over time.

In 1999 he listed seven signs of intelligence as linguistic, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, inter and intrapersonal. His theory and signs was put forth to define the concept of intelligence and whether methods which measure intelligence are really scientific. Dr Gardner argues that intelligence does not completely encompass the vast majority of abilities that humans can have and do display.

Bodily kinesthetic is all about bodily movement and physiology. This is a person who is generally good at athletics, dance, or other physical activities, such as building and making things. They often learn best by doing rather than reading or hearing instructions. They also may use what is called muscle-memory which is learning things through the body.

Interpersonal intelligence is the interaction with others. These people tend to be extroverts, and characterized by their sensitivity to other peoples moods, feelings, and temperaments. They have a unique understanding of cooperation with others and tend to work very well in groups. They are very effective communicators and have a high level of empathy. They enjoy open discussion and debate.

 Verbal linguistics is the use of words both spoken and written. These people tend to be good at reading, writing, telling stories, and memorization. They learn best by note taking and listening. They tend to be very skilled at explanation.

Logical-mathematical intelligence deals with a person who is logical, great with numbers, abstractions, and reasoning. These people tend to go beyond basic mathematics into the why of the situation but are good at traditional mathematical ability.

Naturalistic is an intelligence that has to do with nature and one’s natural surroundings. Garnder added this intelligence to his signs in 1997. These people tend to be sensitive to nature and their place in it. They have great abilities to grow things including the care of animals. Some may even be able to sense changes in weather and they must connect new learning with past knowledge and experiences in order to learn the material. They tend to learn best by collecting and analysis. 

Intrapersonal intelligence is about introspection and self reflection. These people tend to be introverts and prefer to work and be by themselves. They are highly self aware and capable of understanding their own emotion at a time when most others cannot. They learn beast when allowed to concentrate on their own. Most are considered perfectionists.

Visual-spatial intelligence is also called spatial reasoning. This has to do with vision and spatial judgment. They are generally good with visually and mentally manipulating objects such as puzzles. They have strong visual memory and ore often artistic. They generally have a good sense of direction and good hand-eye coordination.

Musical intelligence is an area pertaining to rhythm, music and hearing. These people display greater sensitivity to sound, rhythms, tones, and music. Some even have perfect pitch with their voice. They are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. They learn best by lectures. They will often use song and rhythms to learn and memorize information. Most work best with music playing in the background.

These seven signs and Dr Gardner’s theory argues that students will learn better if given a broader vision of education. It suggests to teacher that they need to use many different techniques in teaching to reach more students in a single subject. Many teachers see this theory as common sense and although seen as such, it has not affecting the methodologies used in teaching and reaching students. It is considered a brilliant theory steeped in rhetoric instead of the scientific.