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Multiple Intelligences and their Importance in Education

Learning theories in general derive from the way theorists interpret human nature and how human beings learn.

Among the learning theories proposed in the second half of the 20th century, I would like to highlight the Multiple Intelligences theory developed by Howard Gardner. Initially proposed as a theory of human intelligence, that is, as a cognitive model, MI attracted the attention of educators around the world due to its description of cognitive competence in terms of a set of skills, talents or even intellectual competencies, which Gardner called “intelligence”. Gardner’s intelligences are relatively autonomous, though not completely independent. It seems that the importance of MI to educators lies in its recognition that each child has a different set of different abilities, or spectrum of intelligences.

In reality, Gardner’s learning theory is an alternative view to traditional intelligence theory (Binet and Simon’s IQ). It is a pluralistic theory of intelligence. According to Gardner, the MI model has used, in part, knowledge that was not available at the time of Binet and Simon (1908): cognitive science (study of the mind) and neuroscience (study of the brain). In MI, intelligence comes to be understood as multiple abilities. These categories (or intelligences) represent elements that can be found in all cultures, namely: music, speech, logic, painting, social interaction, physical expression, inner reflection, and appreciation of nature. In fact, MI theory is being used, with excellent results, in various educational settings, thus demonstrating how cultural contexts can shape educational practice. Additionally, MI represents eight ways to learn content. IM theory, therefore, does not privilege only language and logic as vehicles for learning. MI theory provides a kind of context in which educators can approach any skill, topic, area, or educational goal and develop it in at least eight ways to teach it. Used not only in the classroom, but also as a concept model in a science park, MI is proving to be a way to ensure learning happens and is fun.

Initially, the set of intelligences proposed by Gardner presented seven basic intelligences. In a later work, the author added an eighth (naturalistic) intelligence, leaving open the discussion about the possibility of adopting a ninth (spiritual) intelligence. To arrive at this model, Gardner reports that he studied a broad and unrelated group of sources: prodigy studies, gifted individuals, brain-damaged patients, idiot wise men, normal children, normal adults, experts in different fields of study, and individuals from different backgrounds. cultures. . The eight intelligences proposed by Gardner are defined as abilities to: 1) use language competently (linguistics); 2) logical reasoning in mathematics and science (logical-mathematical); 3) note details of what is seen and visualize and manipulate objects in the mind (spatial); 4) understand, create, and appreciate music and musical (musical) concepts; 5) skilfully use one’s own body (bodily-kinesthetic); 6) recognize subtle aspects of other people’s (interpersonal) behavior; 7) have an understanding of the self (intrapersonal); and 8) recognize patterns and differences in nature (naturalistic). As Gardner believes, intelligence is a human capacity that is linked to a specific content of the world (for example, musical sounds or spatial patterns). Gardner also points out that these different intellectual forces or competencies each have their own historical development. For this reason, they are valued differently by the different cultures of the world.

Finally, according to Gardner, certain domains or skills, such as logical-mathematical, which was deeply studied by J. Piaget, are universal. In short, Piaget investigates the mind of children to glimpse what is unique and generic intelligence. However, there are other domains that are restricted to certain cultures. For example, the ability to read or map is important in certain cultures, but minimally valued or even unknown in others.

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