By Dr. Dany Lousky
The multiple intelligences theory of the psychologist and neurologist Gardner (1996) inspired a revolution in the perception of intelligence. He presented evidence that human intelligence is not one intellective index but a combination of intelligences. All the characteristics of intelligence have a distinct place in the mind and the unique mechanisms of information processing and expression influence human understanding of human ability to live and function in the world.
Gardner (1996) cast doubt on the validity of the measurement of the IQ and emphasized the diversity that characterizes human abilities. Thus, he extended the scope of vision of human potential to go beyond the bounds of the IQ. According to Gardner (1996), intelligence is the person’s ability to solve problems. Problem solving needs to lead to products that can be measured and evaluated. Gardner proposed to examine how people cope with different life situations when he emphasized the multidimensionality of human intelligence, which is expressed in many dimensions of the body mind system as an entirety of the ten intelligences or distinct human abilities. These intelligences are different from one another and can connect together in everyday functioning.
Gardner (1996) based his theory on the neuro-physiological aspect. An infant coming into the world has a complex and complicated system of nerves comprised of neurons. These neurons wait to be woven jointly and connected into an active constellation of thinking actions. The active relation among the neurons is what gives the system its traits, meaning, and design. The design of the system eventually determines who the individual is and what abilities he has. The lack of development of these abilities is the functional degeneration of part of the nervous system. The neuro-physiologist researches show that the main relations are conducted through experience, primarily in the stages of early childhood and elementary school (Gardner, 1996).
The dimensions of intelligence proposed by Gardner are: lingual intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, movement intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, naturalistic intelligence, moral intelligence, and survival intelligence. Each one of these intelligences appears in every person, in some ‘dosage’, so that people can be intelligent in areas such as music, movement, interpersonal relations, and not necessarily in the lingual or logical-mathematical areas.
Every person has his own unique profile of intelligences, which shapes his personality, his perceptions, and his understanding of the world and his behaviors. This profile is fundamentally hereditary, and the tendency towards intelligences is evinced from an early age, but the continuation of a person’s development – or the delay in a person’s development – depends on environmental factors such as access to resources or experts who can provide assistance as well as on historical, cultural, geographic, family, or circumstantial factors. In light of the fact that intelligences have a neurobiological basis, a person’s constellation of intelligences changes constantly during his life.
Gardner (1996) maintains that it is possible to improve and develop every intelligence with the influence of the environment, through appropriate stimulation and training, and that the effectiveness of the intelligences increases as the level of motivation rises. Alternatively, the development of the intelligences is delayed given the lack of training and stimulation.
Human abilities also develop through the neurological connections and electric currents in the brain. The brain cells, like the intelligences, are physical entities that can be developed using different means and they respond like the muscles in the body respond to practice and training (Gardner, 1996). Through practice, it is possible to develop the nervous system and the neurological connections in the mind and in the entire body that are required for learning and for the optimal and balanced exploitation of the potential of the 32 intelligences.