Monday, June 15, 2009

Why is intelligence like style?

You either got it or you don't, baby!  At least according to this column in the Chronicle of Higher Ed by a professor of behavioral and applied sciences at Texas A&M.  Here's an excerpt:

[Howard Gardner - author of Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences and winner of the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award"] has posited that our intellectual abilities are divided among at least eight abilities: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. The appealing elements of the theory are numerous.

It's 'cool,' to start with: The list-like format has great attraction for introductory psychology and education classes. It also seems to jibe well with the common observation that individuals have particular talents. More important, especially for education, it implicitly (although perhaps unintentionally on Gardner's part) promises that each child has strengths as well as weaknesses. With eight separate intelligences, the odds seem good that every child will be intelligent in one of those realms. After all, it's not called the theory of multiple stupidities.
 . . . .
The only problem, with all respect to Gardner: There probably is just a single intelligence or capacity to learn, not multiple ones devoted to independent tasks. To varying degrees, some individuals have this capacity, and others do not. To be sure, there is much debate about Gardner's theory in the literature, with contenders for and against. Nonetheless, empirical evidence has not been robust. While the theory sounds nice (perhaps because it sounds nice), it is more intuitive than empirical. In other words, the eight intelligences are based more on philosophy than on data.

Ouch!  Read the rest of the article here - it tends to explode many commonly held assumptions.

I am the scholarship dude.  (jbl)

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