Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University, is an educator who created the concept of ‘Multiple Intelligences’ which make up for the blind points of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ). He said human intelligence consists of not only one but eight kinds, and each of them occupies different spots of the human brain in order to work equally and independently but also interactively. Gardner separated human intelligences into eight types including Linguistic Intelligence, Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Musical Intelligence, Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, Interpersonal Intelligence, Intrapersonal Intelligence, Spatial Intelligence and Naturalist Intelligence. This theory recognizes the characteristics of each human being and helps them develop their intellect.
For a long time, IQ, which was coined by the German psychologist William Stern in 1912, was a standardized test attempting to measure intelligence. However, even though it reveals the score of each person’s intelligence, some people wonder whether it is indeed possible to measure people’s intelligence by a test and stand them in line from the highest to the lowest. For that reason, Howard Gardner first mentioned‘ Multiple Intelligences’ in his book ‘Frames of Mind’ in 1983, and now it has become a popular theory in 21st century modern society. To learn more about 'Multiple Intelligences,' the Sookmyung Times (SMT) met Professor Shin Dong Lee (LEE), of the Division of Educational Science of Soon Chun Hyang University, and asked some questions.
Shin Dong Lee
-Bachelor of Education, Korea University
-Master of Education, Korea University
-Doctor of Education, Korea University
-Postdoctoral Research, Stanford University, U.S.A.
-Researcher at the Educational Research Institute
(CERAS), Stanford University, U.S.A
- Researcher at the Gifted Education Institute (GERI),
Purdue University, U.S.A.
SMT What was your major and how did you first become interested in ‘Multiple Intelligences?’
LEE I have a background in Psychological Education, especially focused on gifted education. In former days, people thought intelligence was a factor of Distinction. However, the concept of this changed recently and became more diverse. This means that not only one intelligence represents one’s distinction, but various abilities do. That’s why Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory first
appeared. Also, a student may have ability in not only Linguistic Intelligence but also in Logical Mathematical Intelligence. For that reason, I am interested in distinction.
SMT How was Multiple Intelligences introduced to Korea at first, and how was it influential in the Korean educational field?
LEE I know that it was first introduced to Korea when Gardner’s research spread worldwide. The role of Multiple Intelligences in Korea is similar to that of the U.S.. Suppose that there are seven kinds of abilities. Those can be the goals of education. In the U.S., it is thought that just seven intelligences are needed to be taught in schools. I think Korea also follows this system. It is sufficient to teach seven to eight subjects, according to Gardner’s theory, but school still teaches too many subjects. Also, Korea has emphasized academic achievement for a long time. However, it is dangerous to add scores together in all subjects and make an average score in order to evaluate a student’s ability, because even though student A is poor at one subject, he/she may be good at another subject. Actually, if someone has a special ability in one field, he/she can make a living by working in a specialized field. In terms of this view, Gardner’s theory offers a foundation for change and innovation in education.
SMT I know there are 8 kinds of Multiple Intelligences. Is each of them completely independent or not?
LEE Actually, each of them is duplicated. Even though Gardner said they are independent, psychologists criticize him about this overlapping. Are students who are good at Mathematics poor at Language? Are students who are good at Languages poor at Mathematics? And are students who are good at Art necessarily poor at Science? In this view, the eight kinds of intelligences are not totally independent but overlap. “Then, to what extent is it duplicated?” There are still no answers to this question. The issue is whether overlapping is recognized to maintain its independence or not. I think in the former case, it doesn’t matter.
SMT Is there any relation between geniuses or brains who have contributed to human history and Multiple Intelligences?
LEE Geniuses have something in common, that is focusing on one subject and doing well at it. Many geniuses were not good at their studies. They didn’t do well at all their studies and people thought they were bad at their books. However, these geniuses were all outstanding in one subject. Usually, students who get high scores in every subject (so-called model students) have no passion, because they have to do something they don’t want to do. In contrast to them, geniuses focus on just one subject-they have great task commitment—and pour their passion into that one. I believe that future society will offer an environment in which students can focus on and do work in areas that they really want to. In the case of university students, it’s better to choose a job they really like rather than be paid more to do one they don’t enjoy. If so, they can succeed in that field, I assure you.
SMT I heard there are successful cases of mentally retarded people who develop their potential abilities and get good results. Is there any example you can show us?
LEE I saw an example of that in today’s newspaper. It was about a child with autism who finally became a pianist. Like this, handicapped people are not always turned over and have special abilities in one area, perhaps even better than non-handicapped people. Lian Ping, a 17-year-old boy with autism is a nationally-recognized painter in Malaysia and he is also a good example. Last month, I saw a KBS SPECIAL, “Gifted Brains” in which there were some people with autism who after catching only a glimpse of something could memorize all the things they saw. So I think that these kinds of people can do better than ordinary people if they discover their secret ability.