Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a developmental psychologist, put forward the theory of Multiple Intelligence in 1983. He hypothesised that humans possess nine types of intelligence. The hypothesis was backed by his studies of the brain and the interviews he conducted on people with stroke and autism, as also child prodigies. Dr Gardner also claimed that these nine forms of intelligence are associated with different parts of our brain, and any individual can have more than two types of intelligence in varying composition.
By using the Multiple Intelligence theory to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a student, their academics as well as extra-academic abilities can be improved. Many children are unfortunately tagged as “attention deficit” or “learning disabled” considering only their school grades and performances. However, such kids may have higher levels of one or more specific forms of intelligence which do not align with the traditional grading system. By identifying that form using the theory, we can reinforce student-specific teaching pedagogies. It can give all students a path to improving themselves, based on their unique learning, thinking, and behavioural patterns!
By recognising our dominant form of intelligence, we can streamline our professional ambitions. For instance, if you are knowledgeable with numbers and reasoning, career opportunities such as a lawyer, engineer, computer analyst, accountant, work ideally for you. Getting into professions namely sound editor, music conductor, audiologist, is best when you possess strong musical awareness. Or you can aspire to become a mechanic, athlete, dancer, or a paramedic, provided you are “body-smart”.
Despite its potential to improve standards of education, the Multiple Intelligence theory suffers from limitations. Since it does not provide a set of guidelines for imparting education, it is difficult to evaluate its success, even in places where it has been adopted. Experiments in cellular biology, psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology can help formulate a set of guidelines, as well as independently validate or disprove the theory. For that, however, it needs further recognition and attention within academia.