Are multiple intelligences artificial?

I completely understand that Gardner’s work is important: I have always liked the idea that people are “smart” in different ways. However, I’m not sure I buy his exact taxonomy, and I’ve always wondered why someone didn’t map the more practical VARK to Gardner (or maybe someone has, or maybe VARK was derived from Gardner). That said, what I appreciated about this article was the clarity provided by the extended examples on the 3 uses: multiple entry points, multiple analogies, and multiple representations. I guess that shows why we read original sources.

I had always thought that an accurate application of Gardner would require a representation for each intelligence, and I was glad to see him dispel that misperception. And while I agree about narrative, numerical, logical, aesthetic, and hands-on intelligences, the two I have trouble with are:

  • existential – to classify this as an intelligence of people who want to tackle the deep questions is to demean the other intelligences. We want to engage all learners in deep questions, and we should we able to pose those questions in a narrative or numerical or … way to accomplish this engagement.
  • interpersonal- similarly, to say that some people like to learn in the company of others denies the heart of constructivist communities. All learning occurs (albeit sometimes indirectly through the culture of the learner) through interpersonal interactions.

The entry points, analogies, and representations made perfect sense, and I appreciated his warning that there is no single best representation for any core idea.  What gave me trouble was the concept of a model language. At first he seemed to be arguing for a specific model; later, he seemed to be arguing for multiple models which added nothing to the multiple representations concept. The multiplicity of presentations was echoed in the assessment section: “students must be given many opportunities to perform their understandings,” which in turn echoes the underlying theme of Wiggins.

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