Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University, proposed a theory of multiple intelligences. He suggested that humans possess many types of intelligence – not just one dimension measured by standard tests. His theory is based on cognitive research and according to him “documents the extent that students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways.”¹ It appears these different minds, or intelligences, are present in everyone, but different people are stronger in different ones.

Gardner categorized the intelligences as:

  • verbal / linguistic
  • visual / spatial
  • mathematical / logical
  • musical / rhythmic
  • bodily / kinesthetic
  • interpersonal
  • intrapersonal.


Briefly, we refer to them as Word Smart, Eye Smart, Math Smart, Music Smart, Body Smart, People Smart, and Self Smart. One more was added later, Nature Smart.

Here are some links to further summaries, source material, and subsequent works.


You can listen to our Smart of the Week compilation here. This is a bonus episode where we briefly introduce each of the eight intelligences identified by Dr. Gardner, giving you a definition, some ways the Smart is manifested in people’s lives and work, and how it has and can be used in the life and worship of the Church. These were originally segments included in various episodes, but we’ve put them all together in one place for your convenience.


¹ The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach; Howard Gardner; Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group; New York; 1991.