I went through an education system where intelligence meant someone who excelled in arithmetic, memorizing, writing and articulating the ‘dogma’ subjects laid down by academic scholars.

Policies and Programs stipulated in the various structures of the educational model, recognized students who scored high in examinations as future leaders and those with bad grades as non-starters.

Yours, I believe, was not any different and it is as a result of how intelligence has been narrowly defined by our education system. Well, this had been the case in most schools in the global world until 1979 where a Harvard researcher, Howard Gardner, was asked by a Dutch philanthropic group, the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, to investigate human potential- a study that served as the foundational midwife for the Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI).

This article therefore seeks to highlight some key findings of the research on the existence of multiple intelligences in humans and also, the need to apply them in the classroom.

Prior to this study, in 1904, a Paris a group of researchers were tasked to identify which group of primary students were at risk for remedial action and out of their efforts came what was called Intelligence Test.

Years later, intelligence testing became widespread as did the notion that there was a concept called “intelligence” that could be objectively measured and reduced to a single number which was referred to as Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

However, Gardner’s study sought to challenge this theory as it focused only on logical, numerical and sometimes verbal capabilities of students and ignored other aspects which was equally vital to the holistic growth of an individual. He came up with eight different kinds of intelligences in humans.

Gardner’s study unveiled eight forms of intelligences, an additional form of intelligence was later added.

The forms of intelligence include:

1) Linguistic:  The capability to use words effectively, whether orally (e.g., as a storyteller, orator, or politician) or in writing.

2)  Logical-mathematical: The ability to use numbers effectively (e.g., as a mathematician, tax accountant, or statistician) and to reason well (e.g., as a scientist, computer programmer, or logician).

3) Spatial: The skill to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately (e.g., as a hunter, scout, or guide) and to perform transformations upon those perceptions (e.g., as an interior decorator, architect, artist, or inventor).

4) Bodily-kinesthetic: Expertise in using one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings (e.g., as an actor, a mime, an athlete, or a dancer) and aptness in using one’s hands to produce or transform things (e.g., as a craftsperson, sculptor, mechanic, or surgeon).

5) Musical: The capability to perceive (e.g., as a music aficionado), discriminate (e.g., as a music critic), transform (e.g., as a composer), and express (e.g., as a performer) themselves using sound in a creative way.

6) Interpersonal: The ability to perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people. This can include sensitivity to facial expressions, voice, and gestures; the capacity for discriminating among many different kinds of interpersonal cues

7) Intrapersonal: Self-knowledge and the ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge. This intelligence includes having an accurate picture of oneself (one’s strengths and limitations); awareness of inner moods, intentions, motivations, temperaments, and desires; and the instinct for self-discipline, self-understanding, and self-esteem.

8) Naturalist: Expertise in the recognition and classification of the numerous species—the flora and fauna—of an individual’s environment. This also includes sensitivity to other natural phenomena (e.g., cloud formations, mountains, etc.)

One would argue that most of these are talents and hence it is possessed naturally. There are instances where teachers pass comments such as, “he’s not really intelligence but he is talented with playing musical instruments. The point is, recognizing these as forms of intelligences will not only motivate such students but also form the basis for the all-inclusive development of the various forms of intelligences.

Some grey areas with the educational system today are that, no adequate provisions have been made in the curricula to identify and harness multiple intelligences.

Also, there seem to be a general partial acceptance for some whereas others are ignored. Educationist in most of the basic schools in Ghana are happy with logically intelligent students while musically intelligent students come across as non-serious. Over 80% of educational scholarships are woven around numerical and linguistic intelligences under the Ghana Education System and other countries in the Global South.

As an advocate for Sustainable Development Goal 4, which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, I believe that the multiple intelligence theory should form the basis for educational reforms especially at the basic level.

In as much as individual strengths may differ in these eight areas, there must be deliberate efforts not only to consciously identify and holistically develop them at the early stages, but also, equally reward them.

Instructors must also be equipped to identify and nurture all forms intelligences.

The classroom should be a place to discover oneself, not a place to discourage budding potentials.

In conclusion, I will quote an assertion by Howard Garnder, that “It is of the utmost importance that we recognize and nurture all of the varied human intelligences, and all of the combinations of intelligences. We are all so different largely because we all have different combinations of intelligences.

If we recognize this, I think we will have at least a better chance of dealing appropriately with the many problems that we face in the world.”


Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. Ascd.

Written By: Ebenezer Esaah (SUGN Volunteer Writer) #advocacythroughwriting #sowingseedsofhope #mentoringchildren #childrenwelfare #childprotection #springupglobalnetwork

Leave a Reply