In the world of education, mentioning Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences is akin to revolution. This revolution is based on analysing the cognitive capacities of human beings, formulating a theory that recognises our different skills and the ways in which we discover the world, and how this can improve education in general.
“We can ignore differences and assume that all our minds are the same. Or we can take advantage of these differences”
With his theory, Gardner, professor of education sciences and psychology at Harvard University, reached the conclusion that intelligence is not an innate or fixed element that covers all of human beings’ skills and abilities. Intelligence is located in different areas of the brain that are linked but can also work individually and be extensively developed if they find an environment that offers the necessary conditions.
Analysing the 8 different intelligences to optimise students’ education
Based on the different areas of the brain, Gardner defines eight different types of intelligence, all of which are equally important:
The 8 multiple intelligences
The ability to relate to the natural environment. This intelligence is more highly developed in people that find it easy to relate to animal species, vegetation and geography.
Functions linked to rhythm and interpreting or performing music are more highly developed. This is often seen in people from the world of music.
Allows us to perceive and interpret non-verbal language. The ability to empathise with others. It is commonly seen in people that work with large groups.
In the past, this was believed to be the only type of intelligence. It is the ability to solve logic problems and reason. This type of intelligence is more developed in scientists, computer experts and engineers.
This intelligence allows us to use motor skills to express ourselves and execute complex movements. It is often seen in athletes, actors or artisans.
Allows us to observe and interpret our environment, as well as generate images that do not exist. This intelligence allows us to make judgements about what is visually correct and see details that often go unnoticed. It is often seen in architects, chess players and painters.
The ability to master spoken, written and body language. This is often seen in writers, journalists and politicians.
The ability to easily understand feelings and emotions, as well as decision-making. It is generally seen in teachers, psychologists and educators.
- Logical-Mathematical intelligence: the ability to understand abstract relationships. Used to resolve logic and maths problems.
- Linguistic intelligence: the ability to understand and use language.
- Spatial intelligence: the ability to orient ourselves and perceive how objects are arranged in space.
- Bodily intelligence: the ability to perceive and reproduce movement.
- Musical intelligence: the ability to perceive and reproduce music.
- Intrapersonal intelligence: the ability to understand and control ourselves.
- Interpersonal intelligence: the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and know how to relate to them.
- Naturalistic intelligence: the ability to get along well in nature.
All of these intelligences are important, but until recently the education that students received in the classroom was based on contents and procedures focused on developing and evaluating just the first two types of intelligence: logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence. This was not enough to allow students to develop their full potential.
Thankfully, for some time centres from the Best Schools in Spain network have been personalising the teaching and learning process with activities that strengthen and exercise all the different intelligences.
It is thus assumed that pupils’ different intelligences are developed to different extents and, therefore, they must put them all into practice and exercise them.
To work on multiple intelligences in the classroom, teachers must value each student’s intelligences, diversify teaching contents and strategies, use innovative teaching methodologies, focus on active and real learning, use new technologies and evaluate considering each of the multiple intelligences.
The quality of the facilities, the resources and the combination of in-person and virtual learning environments make for a personalised education, strengthen multiple intelligences and cover all the different ways of learning in accordance with the style, pace and talent of each student. The aim is to allow each student to develop fully and individually and ensure that they reach their full potential.
Encouraging students to develop their cognitive capabilities, skills or personal talents and reach their full potential is the main aim of schools, but families must also create an environment that is conducive to fun and growth. The particularities of each child must be respected and their main intelligences must be valued and strengthened, while they must also be helped to develop the others. They will be stimulated in accordance with their individual characteristics to help them succeed in all areas, not just those that were initially better developed.