Howard Gardner Explorations


  1. Gardner claims that intelligence is not a single entity, but is comprised of eight “modalities.” Summarize the criteria that Gardner uses to assess whether a behavior should be considered an intelligence. What evidence does he provide to support his argument?
  2. Gardner argues that the I.Q. test measures linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities. If true, why have these abilities been elevated above the other modalities that Gardner describes? What effects might evaluating and sorting students using the I.Q. test have on the students or their schools? What are the potential harmful effects of these rankings?
  3. What would Maria Montessori or John Dewey have to say about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences? Use Gardner’s theory to analyze Montessori’s or Dewey’s approach to student learning.
  4. According to Gardner, the primary purpose of schools is to help students develop their multiple intelligences and achieve goals that are related to their particular intelligences. If schools achieve this goal, students will be more engaged in their own education, achieve to the best of their abilities, and more likely lead constructive lives after graduation. Do you agree or disagree? What would such a school look like? How different would it be than the schools you attended?
  5. Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences has been very influential among educators. It has been much more negatively received by psychologists. Read Christopher Ferguson’s article, “Not Every Child is Secretly a Genius.” Summarize Ferguson’s argument with Gardner’s theory. What evidence does he use to critique Gardner? How does he use his sources? Find and read articles by at least two sources cited by Ferguson (Lynn Waterhouse or Richard Nisbett). What are their objections to Gardner? Finally, take a stance. Write an essay using your research summaries that supports either team Gardner or team Ferguson. Alternatively, you can argue that both arguments are flawed. But who has the better claim to the truth, and why?