Beyond the descriptions of the eight intelligences and their theoretical underpinnings, certain points of the model are important to remember:

1. Each person possesses all eight intelligences. Of course, the intelligences function together in ways unique to each person. Most people fall somewhere in between two poles—being highly developed in some intelligences, modestly developed in others, and relatively underdeveloped in the rest.

2. Most people can develop each intelligence to an adequate level of competency. Although an individual may complain about his deficiencies in each area and consider her/his problems innate and intractable. Howard Gardner goes further to suggest that virtually everyone has the capacity to develop all eight intelligences to a reasonably high level of performance if given the appropriate encouragement, enrichment, and instruction from an early age.

Multiple Intelligence Key Points

3. Intelligences usually work together in complex ways. Gardner points out that no intelligence exists by itself in life (except perhaps in very rare instances in savants and brain-injured individuals). Intelligences are always interacting with each other. To cook a meal, one must read the recipe (linguistic), possibly divide the recipe in half (logical-mathematical), develop a menu that satisfies all members of a family (interpersonal), and placate one’s own appetite as well (intrapersonal). Similarly, when a child plays a game of kickball, s/he needs bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (to run, kick, and catch), spatial intelligence (to orient her/himself to the playing field and to anticipate the trajectories of flying balls), and linguistic and interpersonal intelligences (to successfully argue a point during a dispute in the game).

4. There are many ways to be intelligent within each category. A person may not be able to read, yet be highly linguistic, because s/he can tell a terrific story or has a large oral vocabulary. Similarly, a person may be quite awkward on the playing field, yet, possess superior bodily-kinesthetic intelligence when s/he weaves a carpet or creates an inlaid chess table. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences emphasizes the rich diversity of ways in which people show their gifts within intelligences, as well as, between intelligences.

Reggio Emilia

North American Reggio Emilia Alliance

The Alliance seeks to build a diverse community to promote and defend the rights of children, families, and educators of all cultures through a collaboration of colleagues inspired by the philosophies of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.

Howard Gardner

Harvard professor Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences, which maintains that the idea of a single intelligence (or “I.Q.”) is far too limited, and that eight different intelligences need to be considered in any accounting of an individual’s full potential. His website features frequently asked questions about his theory and Gardner’s answers in his own words.

Thomas Armstrong

Thomas Armstrong has been the leading figure in the world in translating Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences into practical applications for children, parents, teachers, and adult learners. His website summarizes the intelligences and their impact on teaching and learning.