An Evolving Theory of Intelligence Professor Howard Gardner Evaluates the Decade since Publication of His `Frames of Mind'

By Walters, Laurel Shaper | The Christian Science Monitor, March 29, 1993 | Go to article overview

An Evolving Theory of Intelligence Professor Howard Gardner Evaluates the Decade since Publication of His `Frames of Mind'


Walters, Laurel Shaper, The Christian Science Monitor


IT's been a whirlwind of a decade for Howard Gardner, an education professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and father of the theory of multiple intelligences.

His 1983 book, "Frames of Mind," challenges the traditional notion of intelligence and argues that seven distinct intelligences exist. These include the widely accepted linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, which most standardized tests measure. But Professor Gardner also lists musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences.

During the past decade, this concept has been applied in classrooms across the United States and has inspired several educational experiments.

A 10th-anniversary edition of "Frames of Mind" is being published along with "Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice," which culls previously published and original essays on the educational applications of multiple-intelligence theory.

Gardner spoke with the Monitor about the evolution of his ideas and their practical uses.

When you introduced the theory of multiple intelligences did you expect it to be so well-received by the education community?

When I wrote the book, I really thought I was writing it for psychologists. And I thought I was proposing a new conception of intelligence to replace the current conceptions.... The work on education was almost an afterthought. There are a couple of chapters at the end of "Frames of Mind" where I talk about educational applications. But that wasn't something I knew a lot about. I was unprepared for the interest among educators.

How do you explain this interest?

I think it probably has a little bit to do with {the 1983 report} "A Nation at Risk" and the general increase in interest in education at that time.

But I think it had more to do with the fact that I was putting into words and giving some scholarly background - a Harvard imprimatur - to something so many people in education know: Kids are very different from one another. They learn in very different kinds of ways, and to treat them all as if they're the same and call everybody a dummy who doesn't resemble a certain prototype is wrong. But there's a difference between knowing something intuitively and having somebody put it into words. …

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