What would Multiple Intelligences guide me…?

What would Multiple Intelligences guide me as researcher to attend to in a study?

First of all, I’m going to summarize what I’ve read from Multiple Intelligences (MI).

Multiple Intelligences was proposed in nine forms

  1. Linguistic
  2. Musical
  3. Logical-mathematical
  4. Spatial
  5. Body-kinesthetic
  6. Intrapersonal
  7. Interpersonal
  8. Naturalistic
  9. Existential

by Howard Gardner in 1983 (Wikipedia). Traditionally, logical intelligence and linguistic intelligence were emphasized at schools. Students were evaluated by IQ tests and teachers judged their students by how high their scores were in those tests. However, MI suggested that teachers should see each student as an individual, whose had their own strengths and uniqueness in different areas. Therefore, Gardner generated a list of intelligences in order to let teachers see each student’s potential. For example, one student may be good at music and be able to work with nature but he/she may not be good at mathematics. That does not mean that the student is less intelligence  than those students who are logical and good at mathematics. Students learn in different ways. It just varies between students.

This theory provides a broad platform for teachers and students to stand on and helps teaching and learning become much more diverse. Teachers have to seek for different approaches to teach students so that students will have chances to explore and/or find their own intelligences.

The principles of MI:

  1. Individuals should be encouraged to use their preferred intelligences in learning.
  2. Instructional activities should appeal to different forms of intelligence.
  3. Assessment of learning should measure multiple forms of intelligence. (TIP:Theories)

Second, I’d like to try to look at my research concept through this theory (lens). My research concept question is “How to teach art in the context of culture?” Gardner’s theory on MI suggests me a framework to develop my research concept. As he states that “Each culture tends to emphasize particular intelligences” (TIP:Theories). This really inspires me to consider doing my research through various intelligences. Every culture has its unique characteristic. I’ll have to look in depth how one culture falls into different intelligences. For example, the people in the Miao’s nationality, which is one of the 56 ethnic groups in China, has Naturalistic and Musical Intelligences. The Miao people used a lot of images transformed from the nature to make their own traditional artwork. Also, they sang and danced in order to chronicle their history and passed them from generation to generation in stead of using words, which did not exist until 1957 when Romaization system was created (Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco). MI not only broadens my perception of teaching and learning but also sharpen my lens of seeing culture.


  1. “TIP:Theories” http://tip.psychology.org/gardner.html
  2. “Wikipedia, Theory of multiple intelligences” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences
  3. “Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, The Miao Nationality” http://www.c-c-c.org/chineseculture/minority/miao.html
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2 Responses to What would Multiple Intelligences guide me…?

  1. Karen says:

    This is a good overview to begin to consider how a particular theoretical lens can focus a study, in this case a focus on multimodal teaching by recognizing the range of cultures and ways of learning within most teaching contexts. Miao people in China share a culture and perhaps have dominant ways of learning based on long traditions of valuing some forms of communication over others, but within the group there are likely a range of ways of learning too.

    In creating a children’s book on the Miao for teaching both Miao and non-Miao children in China, I encourage you look at Reflection Press at http://www.reflectionpress.com/ The video supports the purpose of your proposed study at http://www.reflectionpress.com/inspirations/videos/reflection/reflection1.html#river. An example of arts-based research that seems aligned with your interests in teaching with a book that you create as curriculum, is Maya Gonzalez’s children’s books and her writings and other’s writings about her books (e.g., see Mira Reisberg’s article in volume 3 of Visual Culture & Gender at http://www.emitto.net/visualculturegender)

  2. Karen says:

    Here are some texts on arts-based research to consider your idea of a children’s book you create as pedagogical or as curriculum.

    Beittel, K. R. (1983). The phenomenology of the artistic image. Visual Arts
    Research, 9(2) (Issue 18), 25-39.

    Cahnmann-Taylor, M., & Siegesmund, R. (Eds.). (2008). Arts-Based Research in Education: Foundations for Practice. New York: Routledge.

    Chatterton, P., Fuller, D., & Routledge, P. (2007). Relating action to activism: Theoretical and methodological reflections. In S. Kindon, R. Pain & M. Kesby (Eds.), Participatory action research approaches and methods: Connecting people, participation and place (pp. 216-222). New York: Routledge.

    Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

    Eisner, E. (2006). Does arts-based research have a future? Studies in Art Education, 48(1), 9-18

    Finley, S. (2003). Arts-based inquiry in QI: Seven years from crisis to guerrilla warfare. Qualitative Inquiry, 9, 281-296.

    Harris, M. (2003). Colored pictures: Race and visual representation. Chapel Hill, London: The University of North Carolina Press.

    Sullivan, G. (2005). Art practice as research: Inquiry in the visual arts. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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