Biographical Information:

Early life

Howard Earl Gardner was born July 11, 1943 in [[/wiki/Scranton,_Pennsylvania|Scranton, Pennsylvania]], to Ralph Gardner and Hilde (née Weilheimer) Gardner. Gardner described himself as "a studious child who gained much pleasure from playing the piano".[2[[home#cite_note-ZeroBio-2|]]]


Gardner was inspired by his readings of [[/wiki/Jean_Piaget|Jean Piaget]] to be trained in developmental psychology. He studied neuropsychology with Norman Geschwind and psycholinguistics with [[/wiki/Roger_Brown_(psychologist)|Roger Brown]]. During his undergraduate years, Gardner worked with renowned psychoanalyst [[/wiki/Erik_Erikson|Erik Erikson]].
In 1965, Gardner received a [[/wiki/Bachelor_of_Arts|Bachelor of Arts]] degree in Social Relations from Harvard College. His undergraduate thesis was titled The retirement community in America.[3[[home#cite_note-3|]]] From 1965 to 1966, he read philosophy and sociology at the [[/wiki/London_School_of_Economics|London School of Economics]]. He was awarded a PhD degree in Social and Developmental Psychology from Harvard University in 1971[4[[home#cite_note-4|]]] for his thesis titled The development of sensitivity to figural and stylistic aspects of paintings.[5[[home#cite_note-5|]]]
He began teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1986. While he is widely traveled and conducted research in China throughout the 1980s, his entire adult career has been spent in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1995, the focus of his work has been on the Good Work Project, now known as the Good Project.
Gardner is currently a board member at Amherst College, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (MoMA), and the American Philosophical Society (APS). He previously served on the board of the Spencer Foundation for 10 years (2001-2011).


Traditionally, it has been assumed that people possess two kinds of intelligence: mathematical and verbal. They were readily accepted for a long time because they were easy to design curriculum around for the schools and fairly measurable with standardized tests. However, when Howard Gardner came along, he realized that there had to be much more to what people knew about the world than just their knowledge of numbers and words. There were so many talented people out there in fields other than science and literature, and he believed that these people possessed certain kinds of knowledge that had never been considered before. With his theory of multiple intelligences, he attempted to explain the varied nature of human ability.
Gardner (1983) developed his theory after working with Jerome Bruner on the nature of human cognition and through his work at Harvard’s Project Zero, where he was a co-director and remains one of the top researchers. He started off by defining what exactly an intelligence was according to a set of criteria that included potential isolation by brain damage, an identifiable core operation or set of operations, and an evolutionary history (Smith, 2002). After having his standards set, he came up with seven different kinds of human intelligence.
Gardner saw the importance of the traditional standards of math and language in intellect, so he made his first two categories Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: the ability to think logically and find patterns; and Linguistic Intelligence: the mastery of language (Brualdi, 1996; Gardner, 1983). Both of these have high importance in a regular classroom and are stressed quite heavily, so they are focused on the most for assessment. People who are high in logical intelligence are great problem solvers and include engineers, mathematicians, and scientists. Those who are high in linguistic intelligence have a firm grasp on the intricacies of written and spoken word, which includes writers and public speakers.
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In addition to the traditional standards for intelligence, he added more artistic intelligences like Musical Intelligence: skill in creating and recognizing music; Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: using your body to solve problems; and Spatial Intelligence: ability to recreate the visual world (Brualdi, 1996; Gardner, 1983). These categories were designed to appreciate the talent of musicians, dancers, athletes, and artists, who could not have their skills measured along a conventional intelligence scale. Their knowledge base consists of wholly different talents than an engineer might possess, but Gardner believes that they still constitute a viable measure of aptitude.
His final official categories from his first publication are Interpersonal Intelligence: capacity to understand feelings of other people; and Intrapersonal Intelligence: ability to understand your own feelings (Brualdi, 1996; Gardner, 1983). These intelligences address how some people are extremely capable in dealing with sensitive personal issues within themselves and with others. Social workers, teachers, and psychologists would probably measure high on these categories since they base their living on how well they can read emotions and thoughts, and a working knowledge of their own emotional nature would aid them in that.
Other intelligences that have been considered since include Naturalist Intelligence: capability to work with and understand certain features of your environment; Existential Intelligence: knowledge for spiritual and divine issues; and Moral Intelligence: concern with the rules, behaviors and attitudes that govern the sanctity of life (Smith, 2002). Naturalist Intelligence was officially added as the eighth intelligence in 1996 and Existential Intelligence is still officially under review as they decide what its core definition should be (Emmons, 2000), but there has been enough discussion about all of them that would lead one to believe that they will all eventually be added (www.miresearch.org). As of yet though, Gardner believes that the last two are still too vague and lack clear, widely accepted descriptions.
In a relatively short amount of time, Gardner's theory changed educational practices in a large number of school districts. Teachers seemed to be jumping at the chance to include the principles of multiple intelligences into their lesson plans because it allowed them to personalize their instruction and create self-motivating lessons using the kids' natural abilities (Wilson, 1998). What makes this fact even more amazing is that Gardner only provided six paragraphs on direct application of his theory and did not mention anything about curriculum, testing, teachers, or pedagogy. He did not even send people out to evaluate how it was being used (Kornhaber, 2004).
In fact, so little is mentioned about how his teachings can be appropriately implemented in a classroom that it has led some people to question its educational value. Others wonder if the intelligences that he describes are actually just skills or talents and do not represent separate content areas of knowledge (Neisser, 1996). Personally, I am more inclined to believe that the traits Gardner explains in his theory are actual intelligences because it seems like people naturally vary on them to a large degree. For example, somebody may be great with words and in expressing how he or she feels about themselves, but they may not understand the simplest ideas in math or vice versa. The different areas of intelligence can be worked on and improved so that they may be developed into something greater than what the person started off with, but it is the innate differences that exist that are explained best by Gardner.
The impact of Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences has been tremendous. It has influenced psychology and education by initiating discussion on the nature of human cognition and showing that people can expand their levels of knowledge across a wide spectrum of abilities. Its implications for the classroom include developing the curriculum to cater to students' strengths and changing the traditional styles of teaching to conform to a more multi-faceted approach (Chen, 2004), and I believe these reforms are necessary in order to provide a complete educational experience. Despite some critics who question its use, the continued success of multiple intelligences in a variety of settings attests to its value.

Books & Monographs by Gardner

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Harvard EdCast: Gardner's Greatest Hits By: Matt Weber April, 2013

Howard Gardner Official Website

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