Thursday, April 24, 2008

Multiple Intelligences: Criticisms


  1. Too many "intelligences" without enough science. For some, the addition of naturalistic and culinary intelligences are unrealistic to a classroom and do not seem to be a different way of information processing.
  2. Why classify students? In other words, in the goal to reach all students, there is a certain danger in labelling students. If we tell a child that he is kinesthetic because he works on cars, it could simply be his socialization that led him to that point. When teachers make that assumption without knowing the science of multiple intelligences, we can accidentally stereotype students.
  3. Knowledge doesn't fit into cute categories. The fact that we dice up intelligence into all these categories suggest a very Newtonian, modern view of knowledge. This denies the post-modern critique of fluidity and the newer sciences that break away from rigid classification.
  4. It doesn't take account for the cultural and social changes that occur. For example, Neil Postman developed the theory that Western civilization began with an oral culture and shifted to a print (or text) culture after the printing press. This was followed by the emergence of a visual culture and now a digital culture. Is it any wonder, then, that students would be so visually-driven?
  5. It leads to excuse-making. Rather than encouraging a student to develop another form of intelligence, teachers (or worse, parents) can use multiple intelligences as an excuse for failing to learn. In fact, this seems to be the most common critique of Multiple Intelligences: that it denies the fact that there are smarter students and that all students need the same skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. Those within the Core Curriculum movement are often the most vocal opponents to integrating Multiple Intelligences into instruction. Instead, they advocate a return to the traditional modes of instruction. A critic might quip, "A kid doesn't need to split a pie to learn fractions or hit a baseball to learn percentages."
  6. Some have argued that multiple intelligences might be better understood using the older, Jungian archetypes and the newer ideas of the Myers-Briggs tests. For example, sensate and intuitive processing might be more accurate than the views that Gardner posits.
  7. It can reinforce negative stereotypes associated with hereditary intelligence. While Gardner does not suggest an either / or approach to hereditary, the application is often that children are born with a specific intelligence, which some critics say reinforces stereotypes.

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