March Blog Post

The first chapter of a book called Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong, “The Foundations of MI Theory,” discusses the theory of multiple “intelligences,” abilities that are grouped by their sensory or social aspect. According to Howard Gardner, the proponent of the theory, intelligences are categorized into eight groups: linguistic (can use words effectively; may become an author, poet, or songwriter), logical-mathematical (can use numbers effectively; may become a mathematician or physicist), spatial (can perceive the visual-spatial world accurately; may become an engineer, architect, etc.), bodily-kinesthetic (can use one’s body to express ideas and emotions; may become a gymnast or dancer), musical (can perceive, discriminate, transform, and express musical forms; may become a singer or musician), interpersonal (can perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people; may become a therapist), intrapersonal (knows oneself and can act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge; may become an artist), and naturalist (can recognize and classify the numerous – the flora and fauna – of an individual’s environment; may become a biologist or zoologist). These are known as the Eight Intelligences and are an argument that intelligence may have more to do with the ability to solve problems and complete complex tasks as well as formulating products in a natural setting. He called them intelligences (plural) because he wanted to demonstrate that intelligence didn’t manifest in just one form. How he decided what attribute constituted an ‘intelligence’ was through basic tests that each of them had to pass in order to be called an official intelligence rather than just a skill, talent, or aptitude. The eight factors he used were (1) potential isolation by brain damage, (2) the existence of savants, prodigies, and other exceptional individuals, (3) a distinctive developmental history and a definable set of expert of “end-state” performances, (4) an evolutionary history evolutionary plausibility, (5) support from psychometric findings, (6) support from experimental psychological tasks, (7) an identifiable core operation or set of operations, and (8) susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system. In the case of factor 1, Gardner worked at the Boston Veterans’ Association with patients who suffered brain damage either through accident or illness, and often the lesions affected one intelligence while leaving the others alone. For example, an individual with Broca’s aphasia (a “bad sector” in the Broca’s area which controls the production of language), will have difficulty with speech, reading, and writing. However, they may still be able to sing, dance, evaluate a Taylor series, etc. In the case of factor 2, savants are individuals who score very high in one intelligence but have lower-than-average scores in the other intelligences. The Dustin Hoffman character in the film Rain Man is a logical-mathematical savant named Raymond, who pulls off mathematical feats most can’t imagine but who has poor language and social skills. This leads me to think that being a savant means having a massive imbalance in the distribution of the one’s intelligence “resources,” such that one intelligence is disproportionately stronger than the others.

1 thought on “March Blog Post

  1. jackkirschner

    Savants are very interesting, if you have ever watched the movie rain man its quite interesting. Its interesting that someone can be so disabled in most aspects of their life and so gifted in another like math, music, or memory. While some people aren’t servants and have amazing abilities like this, its still an interesting phenomonon.

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