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Howard Earl Gardner (born July 11, 1943 in Scranton, Pennsylvania) is an American developmental psychologist who is a professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero and author of over twenty books translated into thirty languages. He is the son of Ralph Gardner and Hilde Weilheimer (Hilde Gardner since her marriage to Ralph Gardner). Since 1995, he has been the co-director of the GoodWork Project. He is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, as outlined in his book "Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences" (1983). He received the Prince of Asturias Award 2011 in Social Sciences for the development of this theory.[1]

Multiple intelligences

Gardner's Theory of multiple intelligences states not only do human beings have several different ways of learning and processing information, but these methods are relatively independent of one another: leading to multiple "intelligences" as opposed to a general intelligence factor among correlated abilities. Since 1999, Gardner has identified eight intelligences: linguistic, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Gardner is still considering a ninth, or existential intelligence (the intelligence of "big questions"), but has not, as yet, added it. He thinks it will have something to do with seeing what you're working with.[2][3]


Most of Gardner's post secondary education has taken place at Harvard University. He was inspired by his readings of Jean Piaget to be trained in developmental psychology; he also studied neuropsychology. Gardner has also worked closely with the psycholinguist Roger Brown and during his undergraduate years worked with renowned psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. In an effort to synthesize his two lines of work, one dealing with cognitive and symbol using capacities of normal and gifted children and the other dealing with brain damage in adults, he developed and introduced his theory of multiple intelligences in his 1983 book Frames of Mind. He began teaching at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1986. While he is widely traveled and has conducted research in China throughout the 1980s, his entire adult career has been spent in Cambridge. The focus of his work for the past fifteen years has been in the Good Work Project. Gardner's work is often described as "an effort to understand and explicate the broadest and highest reaches of human thought, with a particular focus on the development and breakdown of intellectual capacities, broadly construed."[4] By choice, Gardner has not undertaken any major editorial or professional roles. He sees himself as an independent scholar and a public intellectual.[4]

Personal life

Gardner is married to Ellen Winner. They have one child, Benjamin, born in 1985. Gardner has three children from an earlier marriage: Kerith (1969), Jay (1971) and Andrew (1976) and one grandchild, Oscar, born 2005.[5] Gardner described himself as "a studious child who gained much pleasure from playing the piano".[5]

He is also currently a member of the National Advisory Board for Positive Coaching Alliance, a national non-profit organization committed to providing student-athletes with a positive, character-building youth sports experience.[6]

Furthering education

Howard Gardner has been heavily involved in school reform efforts in the United States since 1980s. His theory of multiple intelligences has not been readily accepted within academic psychology but has been highly influential in education. Traditionally, schools have focused on the development of logical and linguistic intelligences. These intelligences are also focused on through standard Intelligence Quotient, aka the IQ Test. According to Gardner, these standardized tests that are used in the current American education system do not measure all of his multiple intelligences, which vary from person to person and thus determine the ways in which each person learns most effectively. Gardner's theory argues that students will be better served by a broader vision of education, wherein teachers use different methodologies, exercises and activities to reach all students, not just those who excel at linguistic and logical intelligence.[7]

In 1967, Professor Nelson Goodman started an educational program called Project Zero through Harvard University which began in the area of arts education but now does a variety of work in developing education. Howard Gardner and David Perkins were founding Research Assistants and Gardner and Perkins later Co-Directed Project Zero from 1972-2000. Project Zero's mission is to understand and enhance learning, thinking, and creativity in the arts, as well as humanistic and scientific disciplines at the individual and institutional levels.[8]

Achievements and Awards

Gardner was the recipient of a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1981 and in 1990 he became the first American to receive the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education. In 2000 he received a fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Four years later he was named an Honorary Professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai. He was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the top 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world in the years 2005 and 2008. In 2011 he won the Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences.[9] He has received honorary degrees in twenty-eight colleges and universities, including institutions in Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, and South Korea.[10]


His most famous work is probably Frames of Mind, which details seven dimensions of intelligence (Visual / Spatial Intelligence, Musical Intelligence, Verbal Intelligence, Logical/Mathematical Intelligence, Interpersonal Intelligence, Intrapersonal Intelligence, and Bodily / Kinesthetic Intelligence). Gardner's claim that pencil and paper IQ tests do not capture the full range of human intelligences has garnered much praise within the field of education but has also met criticism, largely from psychometricians. Since the publication of Frames of Mind, Gardner has additionally identified the 8th dimension of intelligence: Naturalist Intelligence, and is still considering a possible ninth- Existentialist Intelligence. (See Intelligence Reframed).

He recently has written a book, Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds.

Howard Gardner believes that we all have individual tendencies (areas that we enjoy and excel at) and that these tendencies can be placed within one of the intelligences listed above.

He explored the concepts of creativity and intelligences and the parts they play in children's learning, including the major role that arts education can play in developing basic cognitive skills.


Gardner published works include:

  • Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence (1983) ISBN 0465025102 (1993 ed.)
  • The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach (1991) ISBN 0465088961 (1993 ed.)
  • Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi (1994) ISBN 0465014542
  • Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice (1993) ISBN 046501822X (1993 ed.)
  • Multiple Intelligences After Twenty Years, 2003. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Illinois, April 21, 2003. [1]

See below for research into validity of Gardner's theory:

  • Bennett, M. (2000). Self-estimates and population estimates of ability in men and women. Australian Journal of Psychology, 52, 23–28.


  1. (Prince of Asturias Awards' web page; in Spanish)
  2. Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  3. Gardner, H. (2011 edition). Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books. Tenth Anniversary Edition with new introduction, New York: Basic Books.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named ew
  5. 5.0 5.1 Howard Gardner Project Zero Biography.
  6. National Advisory Board. URL accessed on 2012-08-13.
  7. Gardner, H. (1999). The disciplined mind: What all students should understand. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
  8. Harvard Project Zero.
  9. Howard Gardner, 2011 Prince of Asturias Award fos Social Sciences - The Prince of Asturias Foundation. URL accessed on 2012-08-13.
  10. Howard Gardner. URL accessed on 2012-08-13.

Further reading

  • (2004) Multiple Intelligences Reconsidered, New York: Peter Lang.
  • Howard Gardner (2006). "A Blessing of Influences" in Howard Gardner Under Fire, Illinois: Open Court.
  • Howard Gardner (1989). To Open Minds: Chinese Clues to the Dilemma of American Education, New York: Basic Books.
  • M. Kornhaber (2001). "Howard Gardner" in Fifty Modern Thinkers in Education, New York: Routledge.
  • Tom Butler-Bowdon (2007). "Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind" in 50 Psychology Classics, London & Boston: Nicholas Brealey.
  • Gordon, L. M. (2006). Howard Gardner. "The encyclopedia of human development." Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2, 552-553.
  • Gardner, Howard (2011). Truth, beauty, and goodness reframed: Educating for the virtues in the 21st century, New York: Basic Books.

See also

External links

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