Multiple Intelligence Theory: Critique

Among recognized experts in the field of cognitive learning, the name Howard Gardner is today the most famous not only in the United States but also abroad. He has been studying for a long time the cognitive characteristics of the brain in geeks, gifted people, patients with brain injuries, scientists, healthy children, normal adults, specialists in certain fields, and representatives of different cultures. Gardner came to the creation of the theory of multiple intelligence, which changed the idea of ​​intelligence as a single once and for all defining innate abilities and problem-solving skills (Derakhshan & Faribi, 2015). Gardner laid the basis of his theory for two main postulates. This includes the fact that all people have all types of intelligence. Since all people have different appearances, unique characteristics of temperament and personality, they also have different intellectual profiles. Teaching mathematics, with the help of the multiple intelligence theory, is possible due to the fact that it lies within the logical-mathematical element.


If academic psychologists were wary of the emergence of this theory, they were concerned about Gardner’s departure from widely used intelligence tests in the United States, which measured IQ and the adoption of a set of criteria that were less numerically acceptable. The theory of multiple intelligence was highly enthusiastic about education. This largely prompted Gardner himself to actively participate in educational research and practice. Schooling in the United States was in crisis and needed major changes to improve its quality. The main goal was to identify the problems facing American education and provide ways to solve them. Gardner saw his task in not only describing the application of the theory of multiple intelligence in school but also using other results obtained in his study of developmental psychology and cognitive psychology in educational practice.

In an attempt to improve educational opportunities, he teamed up with teachers and the administration of several schools of different age levels in the northeastern United States. The conclusion of the theory was that the period of development of a child during the early years is one of the most important in human development because it contains more secrets and opportunities for human development than in any other period (Tamilselvi & Geetha, 2015). It was at this time that the child was trying to create a comprehensive picture of the world by integrating the waves, flows, and channels of his types of intelligence into an understandable version of human life, which includes the behavior of objects, relationships between people, and an own emerging view.

In the course of work with young children, the project participants developed a new educational approach. Its essence was that the study space was divided into thematic zones, such as a living corner, a literary circle, and a building corner. While in the training rooms of the project, the children were surrounded by a large number of diverse material that could arouse the use of various types of intelligence. The peculiarity of this project was that in it, teachers did not try to purposefully stimulate the manifestation of a certain type of intelligence in children, for example, spatial or logical-mathematical. Their task was to use materials that realize valuable social roles or emphasize the final conditions for the corresponding combinations of intellects. Thus, for example, in a living corner, where various biological samples were presented, and students studied them and compared with other materials, the ability to feel and analyze was developed. In the literary circle, students thought up stories using various props, linguistic, dramatic skills, and the ability to imagine developed. In a building corner, students constructed a model of their classroom, and their spatial, physical, and personal intelligence developed.


Before one can start learning on the basis of the theory of multiplicity of intelligence, an educator needs to spend some time in order to help children understand that they are all capable and smart in different ways. They can show or discover their talents in many ways. For two or three weeks, the teacher can offer children different types of activities that help them realize their strengths and weaknesses, and the teacher to open their students. It is also important for the teacher to understand and explain to the children that the multiplicity of intelligence is not just another tool for labeling, but a way to help them see themselves in many ways talented and skillful.

As soon as the children realize that there are many ways to prove themselves, from this moment, the teacher should avoid situations and activities that encourage children to analyze their strengths and weaknesses. His or her goal is to make them believe that they are smart and quick-witted in all areas, and their abilities will increase the more, the more often they will use all their talents and skills. Exemplary tasks and activities were set up in order to introduce children to different types of intelligence and help them realize themselves in the application (Blue, 2015). After the teacher introduced his students to the types of intelligence, he or she can begin to integrate the theory of multiplicity of intelligence in lesson plans.

However, there is a major issue with multiple intelligence theory and its relation to mathematics. This particular subject only encompasses one dimension of all potential forms of intelligence. Teaching math to students develops their logical-mathematical intelligence and dismisses other forms, which means that it is not effective to use strategies of the theory. In order to evaluate a student’s overall progression and learning process in the context of math, it is critical to objectively assess his or her mathematical intelligence only. Factoring-in other types of intelligence into the education process is useless and unnecessary because mathematics does not involve any other forms of intelligence.

It is essential to teach mathematics by ensuring a full and thorough understanding among students. It is stated that cultural factors can be determined by one’s ability to learn complex mathematical concepts (Leonard, 2019). Some experts suggest that an integrated grouping strategy can be useful to teach the subject in a creative way (Pound & Lee, 2015). However, it is evident that mathematics needs a student to have a gradual upwards-looking learning curve, where all vital concepts need to be understood. Therefore, these approaches seem to be mere modifications and not core changes. Another highly common strategy of teaching mathematics is comparing multiple or analogous solutions that can lead to misconceptions (Begolli & Richland, 2016). In other words, showing examples is not as effective as making students understand the core ideas. The strategy of teaching math-related vocabulary is stated to be a major contributor to the overall comprehension (Riccomini, Smith, Hughes, & Fries, 2015). The idea is that mathematics also involves more than one type of intelligence, such as linguistic. However, no progress will be observed without a proper understanding of core mathematics-based concepts.

Furthermore, there is an emotional aspect of the mathematics learning process. It is stated that children can experience a feeling of anxiety, which is derived from math, and it can severely hinder their achievement levels (Ramirez, Chang, Maloney, Levine, & Beilock, 2016). It is also stated that students with intellectual disabilities can interpret mathematical concepts by focusing on the perception of these notions (Goransson, Hellblom-Thibblin, & Axdorph, 2016). Therefore, an educator needs to be aware that although teaching math involves a wide range of intelligence types, the overall success is still rooted in the logical-mathematical element. For example, a student cannot comprehend ratios and rates without fractional and proportional reasoning (Lamon, 2020). However, the linguistic form of intelligence can be useful in the multicultural context, where math needs to be taught to students with diverse cultural backgrounds (Prediger, Clarkson, & Boses, 2016). The research suggests that teacher-directed instructions improve the overall mathematical performance, but it is important to note that high levels of such instructions a damaging to student performance (Caro, Lenkeit, & Kyriakides, 2016). Therefore, students need to be challenged with a minimum level of support in terms of teaching math.

Motivation is the process of stimulating an individual person or group of people to activities aimed at achieving goals. Currently, the desire of people to get higher education does not depend on the age of a person. From year to year, not only graduates of the school but also people who already have quite a long work experience, become freshmen. Of course, the emergence and formation of motives depend on various factors, one of which is age, so those who have just graduated from school experience greater problems in determining the true motives than their more mature classmates.

The motivation for students is the most effective way to improve the learning process because motives are the driving forces of the learning process and the assimilation of the material. The motivation for learning is not an easy process of changing the attitude of a person, both to the subject of study, and to the entire educational process, and motives are a system that can be influenced. Even if the student did not make a choice of a future profession on his own, then by purposefully forming a stable system of motives for activity, the future specialist can be helped in professional adaptation and professional formation. At the same time, the lack of motivation can lead to psychological rejection of the subject, and the teacher will be powerless to help.

A student’s motivation and levels of satisfaction can be a major influence in the learning process. The study concluded that an unskilled student’s satisfaction could be determined by his or her emotions and motivation (Cho & Heron, 2015). Another expert argues that a student’s successful learning is reliant on providing support up until the point where a learner knows the subsequent steps (Warshauer, 2015). However, the given struggle seems to be a natural emotional response to complex mathematic concepts, and the presence of high levels of support can diminish the learning achievement. There is a need for a more detailed analysis of mathematical communication, which an in-class interaction (Kaya & Aydin, 2016). The overall information flow and exchange must be based on a solid pattern that productively addresses all essential points of the particular session. The latter needs to include the stage of reappraisal because it can be effective than suppression (Jiang, Vauras, Volet, & Wang, 2016). Therefore, a student’s sense of progression can be manifested in his or her overall comprehension levels.

The level of motivation for conducting training is a fundamental factor that affects learning outcomes. Motives are the driving forces of the processes of learning and assimilation of materials. The implementation of the motivation for learning is a rather complicated and ambiguous process of changing the attitude of individuals to what happens in the educational process. Motivation can be considered the main component in the formation of future professionals. In this regard, a fundamental issue is related to the incentives and motives of the educational and professional activities of students. In the cases when the choice of a future profession by the students was not entirely independent and not completely conscious, then, on the basis of the purposeful formation of a stable system of motives for activity, there are opportunities to help future specialists to professionally adapt and make them happen professional development. When studying the motives for choosing the upcoming profession, it gives the opportunity to adjust the motives of learning. It has an impact on how the professional development of students occurs.


In conclusion, the process of teaching mathematic involves a wide range of elements, which include various types of intelligence of multiple intelligence theory. However, it is important to note that only a logical-mathematical form of intelligence is critical for comprehension of essential concepts. Other components act as auxiliary materials, which can either enhance or hinder the process. If a student lacks logical-mathematical intelligence, the subject cannot be taught through other means.


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