Howard Gardner & Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1943. He attended Harvard University to study history in readiness for a career in the law. However, he was fortunate to have psychoanalyst Eric Erikson as a tutor, which changed his life. His experiences with Erikson and others at Harvard got him interested in investigating human nature, principally how human beings think.

Gardner's interest in psychology and the social sciences developed and he graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1965.  He then went to work for a short time with Jerome Bruner on the now-famous MACOS Project (Man: A Course of Study). Gardner completed his PhD in 1971.

Gardner is currently Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and adjunct professor of neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine. He has written some 16 books, his most famous being the series on what he has termed Multiple Intelligences.

Gardner views intelligence as “the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting” (Gardner & Hatch, 1989, p. 4). He presents the literature using eight criteria of an intelligence: potential isolation by brain damage; the existence of idiots savants, prodigies and other exceptional individuals; an identifiable core operation(s); a history of development, in conjunction with a definable set of end-state performances; an evolutionary history and plausibility; support from experimental psychological tasks; support from psychometric findings; and susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system. (Gardner, 1983, p. 62).