Granularity of Multiple Intelligences

(This is in response to this comment, which I originally wrote as a comment, but then I realized I needed pictures. So.)

In regards to Gardner’s “multiple intelligences” theory, I’ve always found the division lines a little ad hoc and arbitrary. I have my own personal theory that multiple intelligences are to an extent valid, but there’s a great more granularity of categories than in Gardner’s theory.

Let me give an example.

Baseball diamond

Suppose you’ve got a baseball diamond like the above. What’s the distance between second base and home base?

Pentomino puzzle

What pentomino needs to be added to make the figure above a 5×3 rectangle?

Both problems have come up in class. The first problem involves removing visual information; some students are confused by there being two triangles and one student could solve the problem only when I covered the left triangle with my hand. The second problem involves adding visual information. Both problems would be lumped into the “spatial” intelligence, yet I have students who find the first easy but not the second, and vice versa.

I suspect that intelligence could be sorted into 100 or so categories, and then (sometimes overlapping) sets of intelligences could be formed into Gardner’s smaller list.

(Mind you, this is all personal theories, with no hard data whatsoever.)

2 Responses

  1. I don’t disagree with this kind of multiple intelligences. Gardner’s — especially considering the inclusion of “naturalist,” as I said in that comment — don’t actually seem to attack different ways of thinking. Thinking is just sorted into loose, general categories that might as well have been a list of different learning modalities.

    It’s like he took a list of teacher tricks and worked backwards from there.

  2. I think we’re totally in agreement then.

    So how does one make a genuinely useful list?

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