Multiple Intelligences


The theory of multiple intelligences was formulated by Howard Gardner in 1983. Gardner's theory emphasized the fact that traditional understandings of intelligence, such as what is reflected by an IQ test, are woefully inadequate. In addition, individuals are not born with a fixed amount of intelligence, but rather can improve each of their intelligences, and each individual has a different combination of intelligences.


Gardner's theory enumerated eight types of intelligence:


Linguistic intelligence refers to facility with words, both spoken and written, as well as the ability to learn languages. A person with a high level of linguistic intelligence would have the ability to express themselves effectively through language, and a sensitivity to linguistic subtleties, and would learn best through techniques such as reading, listening to lectures, and taking notes. Individuals with high linguistic intelligence would be suited to careers as writers, poets, or lawyers.

Logical-mathematical intelligence refers to the type of intelligence we most frequently associate with mathematics and science, such as a facility with numbers, skill in scientific investigation, and an emphasis on reasoning. In Howard Gardner's words, it entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. Many mathematicians, computer programmers, scientists, and chess players have high logical-mathematical intelligence.

Musical intelligence includes skills in producing and understanding pitch, rhythm, and tones, as well as understanding patterns in sound. A person with high musical intelligence would be able to compose and perform music, and thus is particularly suited for a career as a musician, composer, or conductor. According to Howard Gardner musical intelligence runs in an almost structural parallel to linguistic intelligence.

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence refers to the ability to control one's body movements and to handle objects skillfully, and to use one's body to solve problems. This intelligence also includes a strong sense of timing and the ability to train one's body. A person with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence would learn best while active and moving, and a high level of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is important for careers such as athletes, dancers, and actors.

Spatial intelligence is often associated with artists and designers. It includes the ability to visualize accurately and abstractly, and to navigate spatially. Artists, sculptors, and photographers, often have high spatial intelligence, and a student with high spacial intelligence would learn best through visual and artistic activities.

Interpersonal intelligence refers to the ability to understand other people and their feelings, intentions, and motivations, and to work effectively with them. Careers that rely on interpersonal intelligence include education and politics, and a person with high interpersonal intelligence would learn best through group projects.

Intrapersonal intelligence refers to the ability to introspect and understand ones own feelings, intentions and motivations. In Howard Gardner's view it involves having an effective working model of ourselves, and to be able to use such information to regulate our lives. Psychologists and philosophers rely on intrapersonal intelligence.

Naturalist intelligence refers to an ability to recognize and categorize natural phenomena and to to interact with ones environment. Naturalist intelligence includes an understanding of and appreciation for the natural world, and is associated with careers such as farming and biology.

Understanding the theory of multiple intelligences gives teachers the challenge, and opportunity, to develop lessons that engage students of each type of intelligence, and to engage multiple intelligences for any individual . This is particularly important in the realm of Jewish education. A Jewish classroom that engages multiple intelligences is more likely to keep students engaged and excited about the material. At the same time, designing learning to incorporate multiple intelligences also enables us to engage the content more deeply, and with fresh insights, invigorating the learning experiences of all the participants . The following lesson plan by Semadar Goldstein is just one example of how a Jewish studies educator (in this case teaching Genesis 22, the Binding of Isaac) can use the theory of multiple intelligences:

Intelligence Questions Applications
Interpersonal How did Abraham or Isaac
feel during the story of the
Binding of Isaac?
Dramatically read
the story, or write
your own skit.




What was the look on
Abraham’s or Isaac’s faces
during the walk to Mt.
Moriah? During the Binding of
Isaac? During the angel


Pantomime the




Analyze the language and
feelings expressed in the


Diary or journal log
the story from
Isaac’s or Abraham’s
point of view.




How many times does…the
phrase ‘And they walked the
two of them together’ appear?
the word ‘Hineni’ appear?’


Graph key words
and phrases.
Compare and
contrast to other
mentions of the word
in the Bible.
Sequence events.




How does this apply to my
life? When did this happen to




What kind of background
music would be playing
throughout this story?


Compose or bring in
appropriate stanzas
for the opening,
middle climactic and
ending stages.


Visual - Spatial


How can I see what


Comic strip,
illustrations, before
and after scenes.


Additional resources:

For resources specific to Jewish education, the Lookstein Center has a website that discusses how to implement multiple intelligence instruction in a classroom, including how to surmount the challenges that might arise, and also includes resources and materials specific to Jewish education.

Howard Gardner's website includes an extensive list of frequently asked questions about multiple intelligences, as well as a thorough list of resources.

The Multiple Intelligence Institute is devoted to resources to help educators apply understand and apply the principles of multiple intelligences.

PBS's Concept to Classroom also includes resources for teachers, including video clips of multiple intellegences in action in the classroom.


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