Howard Gardner's developed theory of multiple intelligences has been a positive and influential contribution to the study of education and learning. Gardner's theory has enabled researchers and educators to alter and rethink their views regarding an individual's intelligence and ultimately what factors may contribute to the educating of specific individual intelligences. Based on Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, there are seven identified areas of intelligence. These include: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinaesthetic, spatial, interpersonal and interpersonal.
Gardner's further research clarifies that every individual possesses the seven different areas of intelligence, but depending on each different individual's cultural environment and biological make up, certain areas will be stronger than others. The impact of Gardner's theory has allowed theorists such as Sternberg to further extend on the theory of multiple intelligences as well as incorporate this theory into other ideas and practices throughout educational research fields. It is essential that all educators incorporate the theory of multiple intelligences within the learning environment to allow all children to express their focal intelligence. This includes incorporating the multiple intelligence theory in curriculum provision, classroom practice and assessment to ensure a beneficial and provisional learning environment.
In the early twentieth century, it was generally believed that intelligence was a single entity which was inherited and that human beings were referred to as being a "blank slate". (Gardner; 1993; p.23) This was commonly referred to as associationism and governed the way of education and learning prior to Gardner's research. It was also during the early twentieth century that theorist Alfred Binet was constructing the first theory of a relationship between education and intelligence. Binet's research was set to discover children in ordinary schools who weren't performing successfully academically and planned to move them to specialised learning schools. Binet's assessment method to determine these results was through the Binet-Simon test, equivalent to a standard I.Q test today.
While studying Binet's methods of academic testing whilst at Harvard University, Gardner questioned the quality and precision of this type of testing on children. Although he discovered it accurate in testing academic knowledge, Gardner ultimately determined that the standard academic I.Q tests did not predict or allow for achievement in other fields of knowledge. This was causing negative attitudes in regards to individual academic achievement and testing from teachers, as the society then placed high value upon linguistic and academic intelligence. Therefore, based on this study, Gardner developed the seven multiple intelligence theory in 1983.
It is extremely difficult to define intelligence today, as our views about what is intelligence or what knowledge needs to be possessed in order to be intelligent is altered by many factors. Gardner however, managed to sum intelligence up as being "the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting." (Gardner, 1989, Ch18, p.4-9) This definition therefore supports the theory of multiple intelligences within individuals. As mentioned, Gardner believed that all individuals possess these seven intelligences, but the way in which these intelligences interact and develop is dependent on the individual's strengths and weaknesses. This is further impacted upon by an individual's cultural background and biological make up. (Gardner, Krechevsky, Sternberg and Okogaki, 1994, p.108)