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Howard Gardner - Biography

Howard Earl Gardner (born July 11, 1943 in Scranton, Pennsylvania) is an American developmental psychologist who is a professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero and author of over twenty books translated into thirty languages. Since 1995, he has been the co-director of the GoodWork Project. He is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences.


Multiple intelligences

Gardner's Theory of multiple intelligences states not only do human beings have several different ways of learning and processing information, but these methods are relatively independent of one another: leading to multiple "intelligences" as opposed to a general intelligence factor among correlated abilities. Since 1999, Gardner has identified eight intelligences: linguistic, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Gardner is still considering a ninth, or existential intelligence (the intelligence of "big questions"), but has not, as yet, added it. He thinks it will have something to do with seeing what you're working with.


All of Gardner's post secondary education has taken place at Harvard University. He was inspired by his readings of Jean Piaget to be trained in developmental psychology; he also studied neuropsychology. Gardner has also worked closely with the psycholinguist Roger Brown and during his undergraduate years worked with renowned psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. In an effort to synthesize his two lines of work, one dealing with cognitive and symbol using capacities of normal and gifted children and the other dealing with brain damage in adults, he developed and introduced his theory of multiple intelligences in his 1983 book "Frames of Mind". He began teaching at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1986. While he is widely traveled and has conducted research in China throughout the 1980s, his entire adult career has been spent in Cambridge. The focus of his work for the past fifteen years has been in the Good Work Project. Gardner's work is often described as "an effort to understand and explicate the broadest and highest reaches of human thought, with a particular focus on the development and breakdown of intellectual capacities, broadly construed.". By choice, Gardner has not undertaken any major editorial or professional roles. He sees himself as an independent scholar and a public intellectual.

Personal Life

Gardner is married to Ellen Winner. They have one child, Benjamin, born in 1985. Gardner has three children from an earlier marriage: Kerith (1969), Jay (1971) and Andrew (1976) and one grandchild, Oscar, born 2005.. Gardner described himself as "a studious child who gained much pleasure from playing the piano".

Furthering education

Howard Gardner has been heavily involved in school reform efforts in the United States since 1980s. His theory of multiple intelligences has not been readily accepted within academic psychology but has been highly influential in education. Traditionally, schools have focused on the development of logical and linguistic intelligences. These intelligences are also focused on through standard Intelligence Quotient, aka the IQ Test. According to Gardner, these standardized tests that are used in the current American education system do not measure all of his multiple intelligences, which vary from person to person and thus determine the ways in which each person learns most effectively. Gardner's theory argues that students will be better served by a broader vision of education, wherein teachers use different methodologies, exercises and activities to reach all students, not just those who excel at linguistic and logical intelligence.

In 1967, Professor Nelson Goodman started an educational program called Project Zero through Harvard University which began in the area of arts education but now does a variety of work in developing education. Howard Gardner and David Perkins were founding Research Assistants and Gardner and Perkins 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.

Achievements and Awards

Gardner was the recipient of a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1981 and in 1990 he became the first American to receive the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education. In 2000 he received a fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Four years later he was named and Honorary Professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai. He was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the top 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world in the years 2005 and 2008. In 2011 he won the Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences.
He has received honorary degrees in twenty-eight colleges and universities, including institutions in Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, and South Korea.

Further reading

  • Gordon, L. M. (2006). Howard Gardner. "The encyclopedia of human development." Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2, 552-553.

External links

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