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Multiple Intelligences: Its Tensions and Possibilities


by Elliot Eisner 2004

This article explores the tensions between Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences and current educational policies emphasizing standardized and predictable outcomes. The article situates Gardner's theory within the historical interests among psychometricians in identifying those core processes that constitute human intelligence. Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences provides a significant contrast to the models of mind that have traditionally been used to understand how people think and make intelligent choices. The pursuit of a single G factor is contrasted with an array of specific intelligences in Gardner's conception. The implications of Gardner's view for education pertain to the cultivation of the various ways in which humans reflect intelligently and the implicit recommendation that individual proclivities, interests, and intelligences be cultivated. Such an approach to schooling would yield differences among the outcomes for children whose intelligences differed. It is this orientation to the aims of education that conflicts dramatically with a standards-driven approach to school improvement.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 106 Number 1, 2004, p. 31-39
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11506, Date Accessed: 7/25/2017 4:49:41 AM

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About the Author
  • Elliot Eisner
    Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    ELLIOT EISNER is Lee Jacks Professor of Education and Professor of Art at Stanford University. He was a painter and a teacher of art before focusing his attention to scholarship in education. His major areas of interest include arts education, curriculum studies, and the use of the arts in the conduct of educational research. He has served as president of many associations including the National Art Education Association, the International Society for Education through Art, the John Dewey Society, and the American Educational Research Association. His most recent publication, The Arts and the Creation of Mind, was published by Yale University Press in 2002.
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