Frames of Mind - Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner in his book titled Frames of Mind - Theory of Multiple Intellignecies published in 1983, challenged the notion that there existed a single human intelligence / single general capacity for logical thinking, reasoning and use of language. He aserted that the traditional definition of intelligence which focuses mainly on the ability to use language and to reason logically or mathematically is too narrow. It fails to measure large areas of human endeavour or brilliance. On the basis of epirical research, Gardner identified eight distinct intelligenceswhiuch spring from different areas of the brain. He mentioned there are eight units of intellectual funtioning.These are observable and measurable. These intelligences though autonomously rarely operate independently. They work in harmony with one another. They rather complement each other as individuals solve problems. For instance, a dancer can excel in her/ his art only if she/ he has strong musical intelligence to understand the rhythm and variations of the music, 2) interpersonal intellignce to understand how she/ he can inspire or emotionally move the audience through movements as well as bodily intelligence to provide her/ him the agility and coordination to complete the movements successfully.

Gardner asserts that all the eight intelligences are needed to function productively in the society. These intelligences are mentioned below:

  1. Linguistic Intelligence                            -             Word Smart
  2. Logical - Mathematical Intelligence     -            Number/ reasoning/ logic smart
  3. Visual Spatial Intelligence                     -            Picture Smart
  4. Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence              -            Body smart/ Physical intelligence
  5. Musical Intelligence                                -            Music Smart
  6. Interpersonal Intelligence                      -            People Smart/ Social Experience
  7. Intrapersonal Intelligence                      -            Self Smart/ Self-reflection
  8. Natural Intelligence                                 -            Nature Smart / an experience in the natural world.


In our schools, students with talent in linguistic and logical - mathematical intelligences usually perform well. Students with poor inguistic or logical - mathematical intelligence often do not perform well and as such they are labeled as 'learning diabled' even though they are talented in other intelligences. Because of their talent in other areas highlighted above, their ways of thinking and leraning are different or rather unique. They are not able to learn much by listening, reading and writing, reasoning, logical thinking etc. Some of them are able to learn throughlearning by doing seeing pictures and songs. Others are able to learn through self reflection, working with others undergoing experience in the in the natural world etc.Gardner highlights that their unique ways of thinking and learning are not addresses in classrooms dominated by linguistic or logical mathematical instructional approaches.