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Published: August 10, 2011

Multiple Intelligence Theory

A theory that there are at least eight universal types of intelligence in humans, each neurally based and, therefore, genetically determined: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal and naturalist.Developed by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, the highly controversial theory has fed the prejudices of many teachers and school administrators that many children may be congenitally unable to learn certain types of material and that academic TRACKING is the most practical, effective way of helping such children through the schooling process. Gardner’s theory emerged from his work in the 1970s with both gifted children and victims of brain damage. He found that gifted children were usually gifted in only one or two areas, such as music or mathematics, while the brain damaged lost specific skills, which, depending on the damaged areas of the brain, he was able to categorize and isolate into seven specific mental faculties that all human beings possess in varying degrees. He also concluded that each intelligence determines how individuals learn and the degree of success they will ultimately achieve in school and the workplace—although he adds that concentrated effort can improve each intelligence and any failure to exercise each intelligence will allow it to wither and all but disappear. Critics retort by calling what Gardner describes as multiple intelligence as nothing more than specific talents. Moreover, they point out that Gardner has never supported his theory with scientific studies or testing procedures.