Howard Gardner’s ideas on multiple intelligences have had most appeal in the classroom where they confirm what teachers know from their everyday experience, namely that pupils have different skills and capabilities. The theory can be used to discuss what we mean when we describe people as being ‘intelligent’, ‘able’, ‘gifted’, ‘talented’ or ‘clever’ to remind students that everyone is good at some things and has difficulty with others. Gardner is extremely critical of traditional school systems, which he says are based on outdated models that regard intelligence as fixed and general. He also believes that schools place far too great an emphasis on logical/mathematical and verbal/linguistic intelligences and in doing so fail to develop other talents and capacities of young people. Multiple intelligences provide a wide variety of identifiable areas of knowledge and skills beyond the traditional verbal and numerical to include the personal, social and creative. By focusing on these and other intelligences, pupils can more easily discover that they have strengths and use the resulting gains in confidence to develop those areas in which they are not so strong. Multiple intelligences can be used as a conceptual framework for organizing and reflecting on the curriculum. Teachers can use the theory of multiple intelligences to get to know each pupil’s dominant strengths and areas for development. In applying theories of intelligence in the classroom, it is important that teachers do not categorize or compartmentalize learners, but instead recognize that pupils are strong in some aspects of intelligence and less strong in others. All young people should be provided with learning opportunities that help to nurture and develop their talents and abilities, and assessment methodologies should reflect the multiple nature of intelligence.
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