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Howard Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He also holds positions as Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero. Among numerous honors, Gardner received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1981. He has received honorary degrees from 26 colleges and universities, including institutions in Bulgaria, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, and South Korea. In 2005 and again in 2008, he was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world. Most recently, he was bestowed with the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences, which aims “to reward the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanistic work.” The author of 25 books translated into 28 languages, and several hundred articles, Gardner is best known in educational circles for his theory of multiple intelligences.
All of Gardner’s post-secondary education has taken place at Harvard University. He was inspired by his readings of Jean Piaget to be trained in developmental psychology; he also studied neuropsychology. Gardner has also worked closely with the psycholinguist Roger Brown and during his undergraduate years worked with renowned psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. In an effort to synthesize his two lines of work, one dealing with cognitive and symbol using capacities of normal and gifted children and the other dealing with brain damage in adults, he developed and introduced his theory of multiple intelligences in his 1983 book “Frames of Mind”. He began teaching at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1986. While he is widely traveled and has conducted research in China throughout the 1980s, his entire adult career has been spent in Cambridge. The focus of his work for the past fifteen years has been in the Good Work Project. Gardner’s work is often described as “an effort to understand and explicate the broadest and highest reaches of human thought, with a particular focus on the development and breakdown of intellectual capacities, broadly construed.” By choice, Gardner has not undertaken any major editorial or professional roles. He sees himself as an independent scholar and a public intellectual.
His major contribution is the theory of multiple intelligences that differentiates intelligence into various specific (primarily sensory) modalities, rather than seeing it as dominated by a single general ability.
“An intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings.”
Gardner argues that there is a wide range of cognitive abilities, and that there are only very weak correlations between these. For example, the theory predicts that a child who learns to multiply easily is not necessarily generally more intelligent than a child who has more difficulty on this task.
The application of the theory of multiple intelligences varies widely. It runs the extent from a teacher who, when confronted with a student having difficulties, uses a different approach to teach the material, to an entire school using M.I. as a framework. In general, those who subscribe to the theory strive to provide opportunities for their students to use and develop all the different intelligences, not just the few at which they naturally excel.
The same concept of Multiple Intelligences has been adopted my Inventure Academy to help in over-all child development. These multiple intelligences are showcased in inter-school tournaments, especially in the M.I.X. (Multiple Intelligences Xplored), hosted by Inventure. This is the corner stone of teaching practice at Inventure.
– Tanuj Lalwani and Anish Dutta,
Grade 9 ICSE