Howard Gardner

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Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner.jpg
Howard Earl Gardner

(1943-07-11) July 11, 1943 (age 77)
Alma mater Harvard College
Known for Theory of multiple intelligences
Spouse(s) Ellen Winner
Scientific career
Fields Psychology, education
Institutions Harvard University
Influences Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, Nelson Goodman [1]

Howard Earl Gardner (born July 11, 1943) is an American developmental psychologist and the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Research Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. He is currently the senior director of Harvard Project Zero, and since 1995, he has been the co-director of The Good Project. [2]


Gardner has written hundreds of research articles [3] and thirty books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. He is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, as outlined in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. [2]

Gardner retired from teaching in 2019. [4]

Early life

Howard Earl Gardner was born July 11, 1943, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Ralph Gardner and Hilde (née Weilheimer) Gardner, German-Jewish immigrants who fled Germany prior to World War II. [5]

Gardner described himself as "a studious child who gained much pleasure from playing the piano". [6] Although Gardner never became a professional pianist, he taught piano from 1958 to 1969. [3]

Education was of the utmost importance in the Gardner home. While his parents had hoped that he would attend Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts, Gardner opted to attend a school closer to his hometown in Pennsylvania, Wyoming Seminary. Gardner had a desire to learn and greatly excelled in school. [7]


Gardner graduated from Harvard University in 1965 with an BA in social relations, and studied under the renowned Erik Erikson. After earning a Master’s degree at the London School of Economics, he would go on to obtain his PhD in developmental psychology at Harvard while working with psychologists Roger Brown and Jerome Bruner, and philosopher Nelson Goodman. [5]

For his postdoctoral fellowship, Gardner worked alongside Norman Geschwind at Boston Veterans Administration Hospital and continued his work there for another 20 years. [3] Gardner began teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1986. Since 1995, much of the focus of his work has been on The GoodWork Project, now part of a larger initiative known as The Good Project that encourages excellence, ethics, and engagement in work, digital life, and beyond.

In 2000, Gardner, Kurt Fischer, and their colleagues at the Harvard Graduate School of Education established the master's degree program in Mind, Brain and Education. This program was thought to be the first of its kind around the world. Many universities in both the United States and abroad have since developed similar programs. Four years later in 2004, Gardner would continue writing about the mind and brain and would publish Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds, a book about seven forms of mind-change. [5]

Gardner retired from teaching in 2019. [4]

Theory and criticism

According to Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, humans have several different ways of processing information, and these ways are relatively independent of one another. The theory is a critique of the standard intelligence theory, which emphasizes the correlation among abilities, as well as traditional measures like IQ tests that typically only account for linguistic, logical, and spatial abilities. Since 1999, Gardner has identified eight intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. [8] Gardner and colleagues have also considered two additional intelligences, existential and pedagogical. [9] [10] Many teachers, school administrators, and special educators have been inspired by Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences as it has allowed for the idea that there is more than one way to define a person's intellect. [11]

Gardner's definition of intelligence has been met with some criticism in education circles [12] as well as in the field of psychology. Perhaps the strongest and most enduring critique of his theory of multiple intelligences centers on its lack of empirical evidence, much of which points to a single construct of intelligence called "g". [13] Gardner responds that his theory is based entirely on applied evidence as opposed to experimental evidence, as he does not believe experimental evidence is appropriate for a theoretical synthesis. [14] [15]

Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences can be seen as both a departure from and a continuation of the last century's work on the subject of human intelligence. Other prominent psychologists whose contributions variously developed or expanded the field of study include Charles Spearman, Louis Thurstone, Edward Thorndike, and Robert Sternberg.

In 1967, Professor Nelson Goodman started an educational program called Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which began with a focus in arts education and now spans throughout a wide variety of educational arenas. [16] Howard Gardner and David Perkins were founding Research Assistants and 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. [17]

Good Project founders: William Damon, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Gardner Goodworkteam.jpg
Good Project founders: William Damon, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Gardner

For almost two decades, in collaboration with William Damon, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and several other colleagues, Gardner has been directing research at The Good Project on the nature of good work, good play, and good collaboration. The goal of his research is to determine what it means to achieve work that is at once excellent, engaging, and carried out in an ethical way. With colleagues Lynn Barendsen, Wendy Fischman, and Carrie James, Gardner has developed curricular toolkits on these topics for use in educational and professional circles. [18]

Achievements and awards

In 1981 Gardner was the recipient of a MacArthur Prize Fellowship. In 1990 he became the first American to receive the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education. [19] In 1985, The National Psychology Awards for Excellence in the Media, awarded Gardner The Book Award for Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which was published by Basic Books. [20] In 1987, he received the William James Award from the American Psychological Association. [21] In 1999, Gardner received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement. [22] 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. In the years 2005 and 2008 he was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the top 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world. [23] In 2011, he won the Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences for his development of multiple intelligences theory. [23] In 2015, he received the Brock International Prize in Education. [24]

He has received 31 honorary degrees from colleges and universities around the world, including institutions in Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, South Korea, and Spain. [25]

Personal life

Howard Gardner is married to Ellen Winner, Professor of Psychology at Boston College. They have one child, Benjamin. Gardner has three children from an earlier marriage: Kerith (1969), Jay (1971), and Andrew (1976); and five grandchildren: Oscar (2005), Agnes (2011), Olivia (2015), Faye Marguerite (2016), and August Pierre (2019). [6]

Related Research Articles

Educational psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific study of human learning. The study of learning processes, from both cognitive and behavioral perspectives, allows researchers to understand individual differences in intelligence, cognitive development, affect, motivation, self-regulation, and self-concept, as well as their role in learning. The field of educational psychology relies heavily on quantitative methods, including testing and measurement, to enhance educational activities related to instructional design, classroom management, and assessment, which serve to facilitate learning processes in various educational settings across the lifespan.

Learning theory (education) conceptual frameworks in which knowledge is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning

Learning Theory describes how students absorb, process, and retain knowledge during learning. Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding, or a world view, is acquired or changed and knowledge and skills retained.

Edward Thorndike American psychologist

Edward Lee Thorndike was an American psychologist who spent nearly his entire career at Teachers College, Columbia University. His work on comparative psychology and the learning process led to the theory of connectionism and helped lay the scientific foundation for educational psychology. He also worked on solving industrial problems, such as employee exams and testing. He was a member of the board of the Psychological Corporation and served as president of the American Psychological Association in 1912. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Thorndike as the ninth-most cited psychologist of the 20th century. Edward Thorndike had a powerful impact on reinforcement theory and behavior analysis, providing the basic framework for empirical laws in behavior psychology with his law of effect. Through his contributions to the behavioral psychology field came his major impacts on education, where the law of effect has great influence in the classroom.

The theory of multiple intelligences differentiates human intelligence into specific 'modalities', rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. Howard Gardner proposed this model in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. According to the theory, an intelligence 'modality' must fulfill eight criteria:

  1. potential for brain isolation by brain damage
  2. place in evolutionary history
  3. presence of core operations
  4. susceptibility to encoding
  5. a distinct developmental progression
  6. the existence of savants, prodigies and other exceptional people
  7. support from experimental psychology
  8. support from psychometric findings
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Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli psychologist and economist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, as well as behavioral economics, for which he was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. His empirical findings challenge the assumption of human rationality prevailing in modern economic theory.

Cyril Burt Discredited educational psychologist

Sir Cyril Lodowic Burt, FBA was an English educational psychologist and geneticist who also made contributions to statistics. He is known for his studies on the heritability of IQ. Shortly after he died, his studies of inheritance of intelligence were discredited after evidence emerged indicating he had falsified research data, inventing correlations in separated twins which did not exist.

Jerome Bruner American psychologist and scholar

Jerome Seymour Bruner was an American psychologist who made significant contributions to human cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology. Bruner was a senior research fellow at the New York University School of Law. He received a B.A. in 1937 from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1941. He taught and did research at Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and New York University. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Bruner as the 28th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

Donald O. Hebb Canadian neuroscientist

Donald Olding Hebb FRS was a Canadian psychologist who was influential in the area of neuropsychology, where he sought to understand how the function of neurons contributed to psychological processes such as learning. He is best known for his theory of Hebbian learning, which he introduced in his classic 1949 work The Organization of Behavior. He has been described as the father of neuropsychology and neural networks. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Hebb as the 19th most cited psychologist of the 20th century. His views on learning described behavior and thought in terms of brain function, explaining cognitive processes in terms of connections between neuron assemblies.

Pedagogy Theory, and practice of education

Pedagogy, most commonly understood as the approach to teaching, refers to the theory and practice of learning, and how this process influences, and is influenced by, the social, political and psychological development of learners. Pedagogy, taken as an academic discipline, is the study of how knowledge and skills are imparted in an educational context, and it considers the interactions that take place during learning. Both the theory and practice of pedagogy vary greatly, as they reflect different social, political, and cultural contexts.

Robert J. Sternberg is an American psychologist and psychometrician. He is Professor of Human Development at Cornell University. Prior to joining Cornell, Sternberg was president of the University of Wyoming for 5 months. He has been Provost and Professor at Oklahoma State University, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University, IBM Professor of Psychology and Education at Yale University. He is a member of the editorial boards of numerous journals, including American Psychologist. He was the past President for the American Psychological Association.

Nelson Goodman American philosopher

Henry Nelson Goodman was an American philosopher, known for his work on counterfactuals, mereology, the problem of induction, irrealism, and aesthetics.

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Gardner Murphy American psychologist

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Spatial Intelligence is an area in the theory of multiple intelligences that deals with spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind's eye.

Gardner Edmund Lindzey was an American psychologist and a past president of the American Psychological Association (APA). After completing a doctorate at Harvard University, Lindzey served as a professor or administrator at several universities, edited a well-known textbook in social psychology and led a 1982 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel that recommended the legalization of marijuana.

L. Todd Rose is the co-founder and president of the Center for Individual Opportunity and a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a scientist in developmental psychology known for his work applying dynamical systems principles to the study of development, intelligence, and learning, and for his contributions to the field of Mind, Brain, and Education. His current focus is in the area of the Science of the Individual, with an emphasis on applying insights about individuality to issues of human potential, talent development, and the design of social institutions. He is the author of Square Peg and The End of Average.

Multiple Intelligence International School Progressive school in Philippines

Multiple Intelligence International School (MIIS) is an international co-educational day and progressive school... The Main Campus of MIIS is located in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, and the Upper School campus is located along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines


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  2. 1 2 Gordon, Lynn Melby. "Gardner, Howard (1943–)." Encyclopedia of Human Development. Ed. Neil J. Salkind. Vol. 2. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2006. 552-553. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 Doorey, Marie (2001). "Gardner, Howard Earl". In Bonnie R. Strickland (ed.). The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology (2nd ed.). Detroit, MI: Gale Group. pp.  272–273, 699. ISBN   978-0-7876-4786-5 . Retrieved 2014-12-07. a part of the Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  4. 1 2 or empty |title= (help)
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  8. "Understanding Multiple Intelligences Theory" . Retrieved 7 August 2016.
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  10. "Home - Mi Oasis". Mi Oasis. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
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  13. Klein, Perry D (1998). "A Response to Howard Gardner: Falsifiability, Empirical Evidence, and Pedagogical Usefulness in Educational Psychologies". Canadian Journal of Education. 23 (1): 103–112. doi:10.2307/1585969. JSTOR   1585969.
  14. Gardner, Howard (2006). "On failing to grasp the core of MI theory: A response to Visser et al". Intelligence. 34 (5): 503–505. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2006.04.002.
  15. Gardner, Howard; Moran, Seana (2006). "The science of multiple intelligences theory: A response to Lynn Waterhouse". Educational Psychologist. 41 (4): 227–232. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep4104_2.
  16. "Project Zero: History". Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  17. "Harvard Project Zero". Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  18. Mucinskas, Daniel; Gardner, Howard (2013). "Educating for Good Work: From Research to Practice". British Journal of Educational Studies. 61 (4): 453–470. doi:10.1080/00071005.2013.829210.
  19. "1990 - Howard Gardner". Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  20. "National psychology awards for excellence in the media" . Retrieved 2014-10-12.
  21. "Howard Gardner, 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences - The Prince of Asturias Foundation". Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  22. "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  23. 1 2 "Howard Gardner, 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences - The Prince of Asturias Foundation". Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  24. "Brock International Prize in Education Laureates". Archived from the original on 2016-10-17. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  25. "Howard Gardner". Archived from the original on 2012-08-15. Retrieved 2012-08-13.

Further reading