Howard Gardner: biography of the American psychologist

Howard gardner (United States, 1943) is an American psychologist and educator who has devoted much of his life to research. Gardner is popularly known for his theory of multiple intelligences.

As a theorist, he believed that the view of intelligence that existed until then (when he proposed his theory) did not explain human intelligence in its entirety, and the measurement of the Intelligent Quotient (CI) does not. did not take into account the different intelligences that a person can possess and develop.

His major work, “Structures of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983)”, he explains his theoretical approach and his eight types of intelligence. His conception of this construct had a great impact not only in the field of psychology, but also in the field of education, where he inspired thousands of teachers and educators who explore new ways of teaching. through these different intelligences. In Gardner’s own words: “Every human being has a unique combination of intelligence. This is the fundamental educational challenge.”

  • Learn more about Howard Gardner’s theory in the article by psychologist and writer Bertrand Regader: “Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence”

Howard Gardner biography

Howard Gardner was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1943. He is the son of a Jewish family who moved to the United States to flee Nazi Germany, and from a young age he was always passionate about reading and playing the piano. As a student, he stood out for his genius and was accepted to the prestigious Harvard University. where he became interested in developmental psychology through the influence of Erik Erikson and Jerome Bruner.

After obtaining a doctorate in psychology from Harvard University and completing his postdoctoral research in the field of neuropsychology, Gardner has contributed immensely to the field of education and psychology. As already mentioned, Gardner, in the 1980s, proposed and developed the theory of multiple intelligences on the basis of his empirical work.

Teaching and projects

In addition, he continued his professional career as a teacher, which led to him being part of the same academic institution in which he studied. Currently, Howard Gardner is Professor at the John H Chair in Cognition and Education. & Elisabeth A. Hobbs of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and director of the Harvard Project Zero, a research group created in 1967 by the Harvard School of Education, the object of study is the learning processes of children and adults .

Moreover, from the 90s, in collaboration with William Damon and the famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, (the latter well known for being the author of the concept of state of flux) founded The Good Project. Today, Gardner continues to lead this foundation, which he coordinates with a group of professionals who promote excellence and ethics in education, dealing with different topics: civic participation, organizational collaboration or the use correct digital media, among others.

Thanks to his work, he has received various awards, notably for his theory of multiple intelligences. He holds an honorary doctorate from several universities, including Tel Aviv, Princeton and Mc Gill. He has been honored by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and has also received over 20 honorary titles. In 2011 he received the Prince of Asturias Prize for Social Sciences.

His great work: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

After spending time working with different groups of individuals (children with and without disabilities and adults with brain damage), Gardner began to develop a theory that sums up his research and observations.

His theory is a counterweight to the paradigm of a unique intelligenceBecause, after his research and experiments, he came to the conclusion that human life requires the development of various types of intelligence, not a unitary intelligence. Therefore, unlike traditional theories of intelligence which focus on a single intelligence or general intelligence, he proposed that people have different ways of learning and thinking, and identified and described eight types of intelligence.

  • You can click on the title of each intelligence to access more detailed information.

1. Linguistic intelligence

It is the ability to master language and communication. This includes not only oral language, but also writing or gestures

2. Logical-mathematical intelligence

It is the ability to reason deductively and logically and the ability to solve mathematical problems. It is generally associated with scientists and the speed with which they solve mathematical problems. It is the indicator which determines the quantity of logical-mathematical intelligence possessed.

3. Spatial intelligence

Also known as visual-spatial intelligence, is the ability to observe the world and objects from different angles., As well as the ability to manipulate or create mental images in order to be able to solve problems. This ability is not limited to vision, as spatial intelligence also develops in people who are blind. Spatial intelligence stands out among chess players and visual arts professionals (painters, designers, sculptors, etc.).

4. Musical intelligence

Because Gardner has a musical intelligence in all, characterized by the ability to recognize and compose musical sounds and rhythms. There are people more advanced in this type of intelligence, who are able to play instruments and read or compose musical pieces with ease.

5. Bodily and kinesthetic intelligence

It is the ability to use the ability to coordinate body movements. This type of intelligence is a manifestation of the connection between mind (and emotions) and movement. They excel in bodily intelligence: dancers, actors or athletes.

6. Intrapersonal intelligence

This type of intelligence is characterized by the ability to understand and control one’s inner self. People who have mastered intrapersonal intelligence can access and reflect on feelings and emotions. In general, these types of individuals enjoy greater emotional and psychological well-being.

7. Interpersonal intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence refers to the ability to discern the emotions and intentions of others. In other words, it allows you to interpret the words or actions, or the goals and objectives of other people. Today it is considered a very important part of emotional intelligence.

8. Naturalistic intelligence

This type of intelligence is the ability to distinguish, order, classify, understand and use elements of the environment, Objects, animals or plants. Therefore, this type of intelligence alludes to the ability to observe, experience, reflect and question the physical environment. Biologists, botanists or hunters generally have a great naturist intelligence.

Bases of multiple intelligences

Gardner argues that there are both biological and cultural bases in multiple intelligences. Neurobiological research indicates that learning is the result of changes in the synaptic connections between neurons. The main elements of different intelligences are found in the regions of the brain where these transformations occur.

On the other hand, Gardner explains that culture also plays an important role in the development of these intelligences and that different cultures value different intelligences differently. Therefore, the cultural value to accomplish the tasks related to these intelligences serves as motivation to develop them.

A psychologist as influential as he is controversial

Perhaps the main characteristic of Howard Gardner was his ability generate intuitive ideas that can resonate with the thinking of many people outside of psychology.

The concept of multiple intelligences, in particular, has had a greater penetration into the world of pedagogy than that of psychology, although there is no very clear way to apply these ideas to the way in which “ must educate boys and girls.

On another side, Howard Gardner’s opposition to defining intelligence on the basis of psychometric criteria this has earned him a lot of criticism, as it complicates the way forward in the study of mental abilities.

In any case, there is no doubt that Gardner served to keep in mind that it is necessary to go beyond statistics and numbers to understand the psychological skills that human beings have, which is already an important lesson.

Bibliographical references:

  • Gardner, H. (2006). Schaler, Jeffrey A., ed. “A Blessing of Influences” from Howard Gardner Under Fire. Illinois: public hearing.
  • Gardner, H. (1989). Opening Minds: Chinese Clues to the American Education Dilemma. New York: Basic Books.

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