In last week’s column, I gave an introduction to the Multiple Intelligence
theory of Howard Gardner, who stresses that the intelligences are equal
in their importance. In alphabetical order, they are:
* Bodily-kinesthetic: using one's body to solve problems and express ideas
and feelings. Actors, athletes, and dancers use their whole bodies in this
way, much the same way that craftspeople, sculptors, and mechanics use
* Interpersonal: perceiving the moods, feelings, and needs of others. It
includes salespeople, teachers, counselors, and those we have come to call
the helping professions.
* Intrapersonal: turning inward with a well-developed self-knowledge and
using it successfully to navigate oneself through the world.
* Linguistic: using words, either orally or written, in an effective manner.
This intelligence is associated with storytellers, politicians, comedians,
* Logical-Mathematical: understanding and using numbers effectively,
as well as having good powers to reason well. Exemplars are mathemeticians,
scientists, computer programmers, and accountants.
* Musical: relating in a wide range of ways to music. This can take many
forms, as a performer, composer, critic, and music-lover.
* Spatial: perceiving the visual-spatial world in an accurate way, so as
to be able to work in it effectively. The people who do this cover a wide
range of fields that, upon first glance, do not seem to have much in common.
Compare, for example, hunters, sailors, engineers, inventors, and surgeons
to interior decorators, architects, painters, and sculptors.
I have seen limited reference to another intelligence: Naturalist, which
is described as being able to recognize plant or animal species in the
environment. This one is not included in the two Gardner books I list it
here for your perusal, but it was added after this original research.
Howard Gardner’s books on this topic are Frames of Mind and Multiple
Intelligences: The Theory in Practice.
In addition, Thomas Armstrong continues the work in his Multiple Intelligences
in the Classroom. To get a sense of your child’s areas of strength,
go to www.familyeducation.com, where you can find a page entitled Test
Your Child’s Talents, which is based on Armstrong’s book.
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacher’s Advice for Parents.