Howard Gardner is an American developmental psychologist and professor of cognition and
education at the Harvard graduate school at Harvard University. He studied under Erik Ericson
(Below) and Jerome Bruner (above).
He published “Frames of Mind” in 1983, in it, he laid out his theory of “multiple intelligences”.
Gardner perceived intelligence as the ability to solve problems or make products that are useful
in one or more cultural settings.
He developed a list of criteria he would use to judge possible contenders for the title
“intelligence”. Candidates had to satisfy a range of the conditions on his list and also be able to
solve genuine problems of difficulties. Initially, Gardner named seven intelligences.
Gardner’s 7 Intelligences.
1. Linguistic intelligence. The ability to learn and use language in written and spoken
forms to express oneself.
2. Mathematical intelligence. The ability to solve problems logically, to solve
mathematical problems and to perform scientific investigations.
3. Musical intelligence. Having skill in appreciation, composition and performance of
musical patterns, including the ability to recognise tone, pitch and rhythm.
4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Using mental abilities to coordinate body movements
to solve problems.
5. Spatial intelligence. Being able to recognise and use patterns in a wide or confined
6. Interpersonal intelligence. The capacity to understand the desires, motivations and
intentions of other people.
7. Intrapersonal intelligence. The capacity to understand your own fears, feelings and
The importance of multiple intelligence in the classroom.
Gardner suggested that the intelligences rarely operate independently and compliment each
other as students learn new skills and solve problems. He also commented that the intelligences
are amoral, meaning they can be used for constructive or destructive purposes.
Whilst Gardner’s theory hasn’t been hugely accepted in the field of Psychology, it has had a
strong positive response in education , especially in the US.
In the face of criticism that it is hard to teach things in the frame of a certain intelligence,
Gardner replied by stating that the seven intelligences give 7 ways to teach a subject, allowing
multiple strategies to be used, thus allowing all students to make progress.
Gardner believes that all seven intelligences are required to live life well and education systems
should include all seven not just the more academic first two.
Since its original publication, Gardner has since added an eighth intelligence; Naturalist
intelligence. This deals with an individual’s ability to perceive, recognise and order features from