The author is well known due to his classical work entitled “Frames of Mind”, dedicated to individual competence and published in 1980. In the book I am introducing now, the theory of multiple intelligences describes the implications and practical applications of this theory. The most important idea is that there are separate human capacities, ranging from verbal and musical intelligence, to the one involved in selfunderstanding. The author’s synthesizing power gives us an “exciting intellectual adventure” which has major effects on the mental development of future generations.
Since during the days of Alfred Binet there was neither a science of cognition (the study of mind) nor neurophysiology (the study of brain), broader, multiperspective concepts on intelligence became necessary.
Howard Gardner wonders, “What makes up intelligence?” In addition, his answer gives up the psychometric vision and points to the theory of multiple intelligences that pluralizes the traditional concept. Thus, Gardner defines multiple intelligences as a computational capacity that is found in human biology and human psychology.
So people have more choices and types of intelligence based on different skills that are universal to human species. For example, human language is a universal skill that can be manifested in writing, oratory, in anagrams, etc. To conceive the existence of multiple intelligences, the author studied exceptional populations, wonder children, scientists, idiots and children with autism, information on the evolution of knowledge over the millennia, intercultural issues, psychometric studies with correlations between tests and studies of psychological training, etc.. An intelligence must be capable of being codified into a system of symbols and a cultural system of meanings that retrieves and transmits important forms of information. Verbal language, the visual and information language are only three possible universal symbolic systems that are necessary for the survival and progress of humankind. In addition to meeting the listed criteria, every intelligence must have an identifiable core operation or set of operations.
As a computational system based on neurons, each intelligence is activated or triggered by various types of information present at internal or external level. For example, a foundation of musical intelligence is sensitivity to the relationships between tones, while sensitivity to specific phonological features is part of linguistic intelligence.
Let is try to identify some of the intelligences proposed by Gardner:
-Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: motion control is located in the motor cortex. Bodily-kinesthetic science is universal and is growing in all children … walking, dancing, sports, and fine crafts.
-Musical intelligence, with its components: strong reaction to particular sounds, special skills for voice and musical instruments, as well as for music creation, is located in the right hemisphere.
-Logical-mathematical intelligence described as “scientific thinking” is actually a non-verbal intelligence, as a pair to the language skill. Brain areas involved in numbers are visual-spatial areas of the parietal and bilateral frontal lobes. Especially among children there are over gifted ones in mathematics. Jean Piaget and other psychologists have documented the development of this intelligence in children.
-Linguistic intelligence, a Homo sapiens genetic quality, too, that, in the Broca’s area of the cerebral cortex, is responsible for the use of words and grammatical sentences. Spoken language is universal and its rapid and without delay growing in the majority of children (via pre-language stages) is remarkably constant in all cultures. Even deaf children, who are taught the language of signs, will often “invent” their own hand language that they will use stealthily. Here is how intelligence can operate independently of an input way or a specific output channel.
-Spatial intelligence. Spatial problem solving ability is necessary in order to move in indoor and in large outdoor spaces and in the use of marking systems for spatial maps. Occipital regions of the cerebral cortex are specialized in processing space. For the blind, the tactile perception system is equivalent to the visual means of the others. There are many aspects of spatial intelligence, the most recent ones being the astronomical exploration and the astronauts’ adaptation outside gravity that is to say in condition of weightlessness.
-Interpersonal Intelligence. This quality is based on the fundamental ability to feel differences in others, especially contrasts concerning their temperaments, dispositions, motivations and intentions. Knowledge of interpersonal relations is stronger in mother-child attachment system. Frontal lobes have a prominent role in the achievement of interpersonal intelligence, always in the presence of the person’s mother or of a mother substitute. Knowledge and interpersonal relationships begin with one person: the mother – and then, gradually, other persons in the family and in society are transposed.
-Intrapersonal intelligence is someone’s capacity to know and understand their own inner aspects: the access to one’s own life of feelings, the many emotions, and even the use of these emotions in order to control their own behaviour. This is an intimate intelligence, belonging to each particular child or adult. Studies with the help of current means of investigation have established that the headquarters of intrapersonal intelligence is the same as that of the interpersonal one, i.e. the cortex and the connexions of the frontal lobes.
The autistic children prototypes of the intrapersonal intelligence damage: they cannot refer to themselves, but may have capabilities in areas such as music, calculation, spatial orientation, technique and other non-personal areas.
H. Gardner also comments on further intelligences indicating that stating that the spiritual existential intelligence would be the first followed by the logic and humour intelligence then by the moral intelligence.
The author’s motivations constantly refer to the scientific fundamentals of the theory of multiple intelligences,focusing on the new technologies that allow research of the brain in vivo and on the massive development of the neuropsychological community. If, in 1950s, there were some hundreds of neuropsychologists, now there are tens of thousands.
Beyond intelligence, other valuable human capabilities are also assessed: natural endowment, prodigy, creativity, expertise, etc. In this monograph, there is a developmental vision that directly addresses our specialists: the analysis of intelligences at five and ten years of age, at adolescence and adulthood. All presentations are given by analyzing the genetic relationships with educational implications that may cultivate or block multiple intelligences. Therefore, the book also describes the priorities of educational objectives, which should deal with multiple intelligences.
We may state that Howard Gardner’s “multiple intelligences” theory is the result of the scientific research and applications and of the author’s multilateral professional capacity. Readers who will study and read it again will have a lot to learn from this book and they may comment differently the content of this theory. As signatory of these lines, I am pleased to have read Gardner’s monograph; I have also found out that if fostering global intelligence, i.e. the classic one that I met so far, is quite expensive, the cost of learning multiple intelligences will be a cosmic theme. However, the book should be read and added to our knowledge.
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