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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Multiple Intelligences

Have you ever wondered why Tiger Wood is so good in golf and others not? You might say because Tiger Wood has 'talent'. With Dr. Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI), he will tell us that this is in fact 'intelligence'! Hailed by educators throughout the world, Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University has redefined the concept of intelligence. His work not only has challenged the traditional view of intelligence as a unitary capability that measured by IQ tests but also has given rise to a new definition of intelligence and a new approach to learning and teaching. The view championed by Dr. Howard Gardner that intelligence is multifaceted and dynamic - expanding far beyond the linguistic and logical capacities that are traditionally tested and valued in schools. Gardner has argued that intelligence consists of eight relatively autonomous intellectual capacities, namely:

(Provided by MIDAS - Multiple Intelligences Developmental Assessment Scales)


  • Linguistic sensitivity: skill in the use of words for expressive and practical purposes

  • Reading: skill in reading

  • Writing: ability and interest in writing such as poems, stories, books or letters

  • Speaking: skill in oral communication for persuasion, mnemonics and description


  • Musical ability: sensitivity to rhythms, pitch, tunes or melody; and the timbre or distinctive tone of a musical piece

  • Instrument: skill and experience in playing a musical instrument

  • Vocal: a good voice for singing in tune and along with other people

  • Appreciation: actively enjoys listening to music


  • Problem Solving: skill in organization, problem solving and logical reasoning; curiosity and investigation

  • Calculations: ability to work with numbers for mathematical operations such as addition and division

  • Ability to perceive: logical patterns and relationships; statements and propositions; functions and complex processes and related abstractions


  • Imagery: use of mental imagery for observation, artistic, creative, and other visual activities

  • Artistic Design: to create artistic designs, drawings, painting or other crafts

  • Construction: to be able to make, build or assemble things


  • Physical Skill: ability to move the whole body for physical activities such as balancing, coordination and sports

  • Dancing, Acting: to use the body in expressive, rhythmic and imitative ways

  • Working with Hands: to use the hands with dexterity and skill for detailed activities and small work


  • Understanding People: sensitivity to and understanding of other people's moods, feelings and point of view

  • Getting along with Others: able to maintain good relationships with other people especially friends and siblings

  • Leadership: to take a leadership role among people through problem solving and influence


  • Knowing Myself: awareness of one's own ideas, abilities; personal decision making skill

  • Goal Awareness: awareness of goals and self correction and monitoring in light of a goal

  • Managing Feelings: ability to regulate one's feelings, moods and emotional responses

  • Managing Behavior: ability to regulate one's mental activities and behavior


  • Animal Care: skill for understanding animal behavior, needs, characteristics

  • Plant Care: ability to work with plants, (i.e., gardening, farming and horticulture)

  • Science: knowledge of natural living energy forces including cooking, weather and physics

Gardner says, "Although they are not necessarily dependent on each other, these intelligences seldom operate in isolation. Every normal individual possesses varying degrees of each of these intelligences, but the ways in which intelligences combine and blend are as varied as the faces and the personalities of individuals."

According to Gardner, the implication of the theory is that learning/teaching should focus on the particular intelligences of each person. For example, if an individual has strong spatial or musical intelligences, they should be encouraged to develop these abilities. Gardner points out that the different intelligences represent not only different content domains but also learning modalities. A further implication of the theory is that assessment of abilities should measure all forms of intelligence, not just linguistic and logical-mathematical.
Multiple Intelligences
The theory of Multiple Intelligences has focused mostly on child development although it applies to all ages. Gardner published his theory in the book 'Frames of Mind' in 1983 and discusses application of the theory to school programs in 1993. Many educators apply the theory of multiple intelligences in the classroom today. Check with your school community around your area that provides 'Multiple Intelligence Program'. Here is first MI school in USA that provide the program.

If you are interested on how to apply Multiple Intelligence at home/classroom, Dr. Thomas Armstrong has translated Multiple Intelligence theory into classroom application in the book titled 'Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom'.
Multiple Intelligences
In principles, Multiple Intelligences theory emphasizes that individuals should be encouraged to use their preferred intelligences in learning. The instructional activities should appeal to different forms of intelligence and finally the assessment of learning should measure multiple forms of intelligence. Don't judge your child by academic result alone, your child may possess other intelligences waiting for you to discover.


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