The use of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI theory) has been increasing by leaps and bounds in countries across the globe.  In many countries, it has become part of national policy.  In India, for example, as part of its National Curriculum Framework for School Education teachers are required to have familiarity with the concepts of multiple intelligences.  Gardner himself writes:  “…I have been amazed to learn of jurisdictions in which the terminology of MI has been incorporated into white papers, recommendations by ministries, and even legislation…I have heard from reliable sources that MI approaches are part of the policy landscape in such diverse lands as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands” (Multiple Intelligences:  New Horizons in Theory and Practice, p. 248).

At the same time, research studies based on multiple intelligences have multiplied in higher education institutions around the world.  Journal articles dedicated to this subject have covered populations from areas as diverse as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Malaysia, China, and Japan.  In Geneva, Switzerland, the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization, which offers programs to over 600,000 students in 128 countries, has acknowledged Gardner’s role in influencing its own approach to learning:  “Howard Gardner has been influential in changing views about learning and the ways we learn. Access and equity within the IB today is much wider than it was previously. It is acknowledged that all students have strengths and weaknesses which must be supported in a strategic way for them to meet their potential.” (IB World, September, 2007).

In the Phillipines, the MI International High School in Quezon City (a suburb of Manila) puts MI theory to work in the cause of promoting entrepreneurship among its students.   Students are challenged to develop real-world business plans based on ideas that emerge from MI lessons.  A linguistic group, for example, developed Flash Range, a media center that creates books for teens that deal with environmental and personal and emotional growth issues. A musical group created a business called Boom Box Music, which offers musical composition and record production services.  A group of people-smart students conceptualized their own family restaurant –Pastuchi- featuring a fusion of Italian and Japanese cuisines.

In Denmark, the industrial manufacturer Danfoss, has created a theme park—Danfoss Universe— that incorporates many strategies and ideas from multiple intelligences.  They have essentially created a multiple intelligences interactive museum, where children and adults participate in over fifty activities designed to both test their multiple intelligences and also raise awareness concerning the many different ways of being smart.

In my own work with multiple intelligences, I’ve given keynotes and workshops in twenty countries including Iceland, Singapore, and the tiny province of Andorra.   I’ve had my books on multiple intelligences translated in over fifty foreign editions into twenty-three languages (including 11 editions in Chinese alone).  It’s truly been marvelous to see the broad impact that MI theory has been making internationally.

To learn more about the impact of multiple intelligences in cultures around the world,  see:  Multiple Intelligences Around the World, Jie-Qi Chen, Seana Moran, and Howard Gardner (eds), San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass, 2009.

For more about the multiple intelligences for different groups of readers:

For general overview and self-help strategies (high school, college, and adult learners):   7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences. New York: Plume, 1999.

For K-12 educators:  Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom 4th ed. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2018.

For K-12 educators (focus on literacy):  The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing:  Making the Words Come Alive.  Alexandria, VA:  Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2003.

For parents:  In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Multiple Intelligences, New York: Tarcher/Perigee, 2000.

For kids (grades four through eight):  You’re Smarter Than You Think:  A Kid’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences.  Minneapolis, MN:  Free Spirit, 2014.

For kids (kindergarten through third grade):  Smarts!  Everybody’s Got Them.  Minneapolis, MN:  Free Spirit, 2019.

This article was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and www.institute4learning.com.

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2 Responses
  1. Veronica Lacayo

    I’m very interested to propose to my children’s schools these programs with multiple intelligences proposes that our young children have fewer frustrations and learning giving them greater opportunities for professional success and have better quality of life with less stress. My motivation is my son with Asperger’s.

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