Asked to define what an ”intelligence” is, Dr. Howard Gardner replied that it is the ability to solve problems and to fashion culturally valued products. This introduction of culture into his theory offers us the opportunity to explore the application of the theory of multiple intelligences to cultural diversity. Some people have made the mistake of trying to identify one intelligence with a culture (e.g. culture X has spatial intelligence, or culture Y is music smart). In truth, every culture (just as every individual) has all eight (or possibly nine) of the multiple intelligences in his model. But each culture expresses each intelligence in different ways.
Take musical intelligence, or what I like to call Music Smart. In European culture there’s the music of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. In Indonesia there’s gamelan music. In India, there’s kirwani, a musical scale in Hindustani classical music. African music includes the genres amapiano, Jùjú, Fuji, Highlife, Makossa, Kizomba, and others. And each of the other intelligences is likewise diversely experienced in each and every culture. Knowing this, and in studying that diversity, we can gain a sense of the richness of cultures worldwide, and in this way, contribute to world peace.
For more information about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, get my practical guides to MI theory for:
- Adult learners (7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences)
- Educators who teach children and adolescents — kindergarten through high school (Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 4th edition) and/or
- Parents (In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Multiple Intelligences).
This blog post was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and www.institute4learning.com.
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