At the beginning of the 20th century intelligence was seen as one, measurable personality trait. Intelligence tests based on the work of Alfred Binet were developed and became popular. But during the 1980s Dr. Howard Gardner challenged this belief with his studies of stroke victims and gifted children. Gardner discovered that people have a large variety of abilities and capacities.
As a result of this work Dr. Gardner developed his Multiple Intelligences Theory which states that everyone is intelligent, just in different ways. Each person can increase strengths and abilities at any time, based on circumstances, opportunity, environment, and personal choices.
So far Gardner’s theory suggests that there are eight groups or abilities, but that each intelligence area has many parts, and changes as people learn. The ramifications of this theory are many:
• Society values many skills which are not always measured on tests or even taught in school.
• The theory of multiple intelligences says that everyone is smart in some ways and less so in others.
• When teaching adults, teachers should be encouraged to use students’ special strengths to help them improve their weaker areas.