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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