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Multiple intelligenceIn Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, proponent Howard Earl Gardner (Gardner, 1983) suggested an original set of seven intelligences that account for a broader range of human potential. His theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) was a critique of the notion that there exists but a single human intelligence that can be assessed by standard psychometric instruments. He defines intelligence as ?the ability to solve problems or to create products that are valued within one or more cultural settings." Cognition involves culturally valued human-problem solving and product-fashioning skills. In other words, it is culture that defines an intelligent behavior. This paradigm challenged the long held view that intelligence is a single capacity that drives logical and mathematical thought. According to Gardner, hardly all competences lend themselves to measurement by standard verbal methods which assess human intelligence through paper-and-pencil tests only. Most standardized tests had been devised to underscore only the linguistic and logical faculties of individuals, using them as the sum reference of all human capacities. Gardner opposed this idea by stating that each person?s blend of competences is unique and every individual has a unique cognitive profile. There is a need to develop an assessment tool equal to the broad spectrum of human skills, and some means to effectively deploy them in diverse cultural settings. Gardner proposed his MI Theory in the following categories (see Figure 1): verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, and personal intelligences (interpersonal & intrapersonal). To expound, verbal-linguistic learners express themselves orally and in writing and are generally fond of wordplay, riddles and stories. Mathematical-logical learners demonstrate aptitude for numerical reasoning and problem solving whereas visual-spatial learners think in pictures, visualize images, and learn most with illustrations and graphic arts. Bodily-kinesthetic learners experience learning through songs, rhythmic patterns and musical expression. Intrapersonal learners are reflective and have an intuitive feel about how and what to learn while interpersonal learners like to interact with people and learn in groups. In 1997, Gardner added an eight type which he called the naturalist intelligence. Naturalist learners appreciate the outdoors, are sensitive to the natural world and see the connections and patterns within the plant and animal kingdom. Later in 1999, a ninth type was included to the list, the existentialist intelligence. Existential learners display sensitivity and capacity to engage in the deep questions of human existence, i.e., the significance of life, the meaning of death and the ultimate fate of the physical and the psychological worlds. Learners deal with abstract theories of where humankind stands in the big picture of existence. Generally, the notion of intelligence centers on the attainment of a particular adult end-state. Thus, a competent musical performer is certainly adept at music but must equally exhibit some bodily kinesthetic skills to perform well on stage. Further, he must also possess interpersonal intelligence so as to communicate his/her message with the audience; and logical-mathematical skills to make profit, the bottomline of it all. To emphasize, multiple intelligences were conceptualized to challenge the idea that construction of knowledge was built around a single factor ? the IQ (Gardner, 1999). In the past, intelligence was thought to be solely determined by heredity and was only assessable through a quantifiable intelligence quotient (IQ). Researchers now hold this definition to be too narrow as it had disregarded a wide variety of environmental, cultural, and socialization factors that affect the development of intellectual capacities of individuals. It mainly zeroed- in on a single factor, a person?s IQ. In contrast, since intelligence has neurobiological base it is capable of expanding, holding and processing a large amount of information. Intelligence skill, just like other types of skill, can be improved through continuous performance and practice. Unlike the current assessment paradigm (IQ tests), multiple intelligences are multidimensional in that it considers more than one way through which we perceive, know, understand, learn and process information. Fig. 1 Gardner?s Nine Multiple Intelligences (1999) Multiple Intelligence and Learning Style students? preferred learning styles and natural strengths are designed to complement each other in improving their strengths and developing their weaknesses (Gardner, 1999). Case in point, a person who is strong musically and weak numerically is more likely to develop numerical and logical skills through music and not by bombarding them with digits alone. Also, a person who is weak spatially but strong numerically is likely to develop spatial ability if the explanation is done via numbers and logic. Moreover, a person who is weak physically but strong numerically might best increase their physical activity by motivating them to learn about the mathematical and scientific relationship between exercise, diet and health rather than forcing them to play boxing or football. For their end-state (see Figure 2), verbal-linguistic learners who would rather think in words than in picture, and who are inclined to remember information and convince others of their point of view stand a great chance of becoming future lawyers, journalists and politicians. Body-kinesthetic learners, on the other hand, who possess good motor coordination are likely to become successful athletes, actors or firefighters. In other words, developing people through their strengths elicits a motivating response to develop in their areas of weakness as well. This leads us to conclude that people are intelligent in many different ways. As Gardner aptly puts it, ?It is not how smart you are but how you are smart.? Fig. 2 Careers associated with multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1999) Significance of Multiple Intelligences Multiple Intelligences seek to remove labeling on students. Affixing labels such as Attention Deficit Disordered, dyslexic, culturally disadvantaged, slow learners, retarded readers are likely to diminish children?s self-esteem, create self-fulfilling prophecies and result in stigmatization. The MI theory can be of substantial benefit if utilized to capture the students? unique strengths and capabilities. Teachers must be careful not to elevate only the linguistic and logical-mathematical skills (hence, label learners as exceptionally gifted and talented based on such areas) as these may not always be dominant in all individuals. There have been instances where ordinary students perform at extraordinary levels and even those considered slow learners exhibit talents in drawing, sports, and musical instruments at exceptional levels. All nine intelligence types are important; therefore, individual differences must be respected by not attaching any labels that could only create self-fulfilling prophecies to the disadvantage of students. A classroom devoid of debilitating labels promotes interest in learning and motivates students to seek their full potential. word count: References Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. NY: Basic Books. Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. NY: Basic Books.