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Multiple Intelligence - Essay Example

Although many research (Duncan et al. , 2000; Penne et al. , 2012) has supported Superman’s two-factor theory of intelligence, it has some flaws. General intelligence is usually measured by psychometric tests to generate an IQ score. However, these tests access academic abilities (Gardner & Hatch, 1989) which cannot be equated with practical intelligence used to solve daily problems or emotional intelligence. General intelligence is also unable to explain intelligence in different cultural settings as what is considered intelligent in Western cultures may to be viewed the same way in other cultures (Anisette & Massed, 2003).

The existence of savants (Snyder et al, 2003) with low intelligence but an extreme giftedness is unexplainable by a unitary intelligence. On the contrary, Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences is able to explain this phenomenon. The presence of an exceptional talent suggests a specific form of intelligence. Lastly, advances in technology such as the emergence of positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fem.) has enabled neuroscience to discover specific parts of the brain that control functions related to different intelligences (Rood, Davis, & Sundered, 2005; Samson & Store, 1994).

Therefore, this essay will argue that intelligence is multifaceted, using Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences. The two-factor theory of intelligence was proposed by Superman (1904), which consists the g-factor and s-factors. The g-factor is frequently measured through psychometric tests, generating an IQ score that represents an individual’s overall cognitive ability. However, this theory has several flaws. Psychometric tests only measure academic abilities like arithmetic and linguistic skills (Gardner & Hatch, 989) which are not applicable to practical and emotional intelligence.

Abilities such as solving daily problems and controlling one’s own emotions are not measured. Therefore, the g-factor, which is distinguished through comparison of various intelligence tests, is not a true representation of intelligence. It is also based on factor analysis, which depends on the interpretations of the analysts. Due to analysts’ different concepts of abilities, they lead to suggestions of varying factors. This is supported by other theories (Horn, 1968; Horn & Stanton, 1982) which propose more Han one g-factor, meaning that the categorization of abilities are never standard for all analysts.

More importantly, the g-factor does not explain contrasting views of intelligence in different cultures. Intelligence is commonly defined only in its cognitive aspect but not its social aspect (Sternberg & Greenroom, 2006). Yang and Sternberg (1997) found that Taiwanese-Chinese view intelligence as understanding and relating to others, a concept that is not present in the West. Also, many cultures associate practical abilities with intelligence such as the tracking skills of Aborigines in Australia. Compared to cognitive abilities, tracking abilities allow them to survive in their culture.

Hence, intelligence cannot be Judged solely based on cognitive abilities as cultural context plays an integral role. In contrast to Superman’s theory, Gardner defined intelligence as “the capacity to solve problems or fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural settings” (Gardner & Hatch, 1989, p. 5). This broadens intelligence to include abilities outside academic fields which are viewed as important in different cultures. Greenroom et al. (2004) examined the importance of practical and academic intelligence to Yuppie children from rural and urban Alaskan communities.

A total of 261 adolescents took part in practical and academic intelligence tests which measured everyday-life knowledge, and fluid and crystallized intelligence respectively. Traits that are valued by the community were rated by the participants’ peers and adults. The results showed that everyday-life knowledge is correlated with Yuppie valued traits and this relationship is stronger in rural communities. This study suggests the importance of practical intelligence in non-academic settings and that distinct intelligences do exist in different cultures.

The existence of savants, who are rare individuals with brain impairments but possessing extreme excellence in specific abilities (Snyder et al. , 2003), provides evidence to the multiple intelligences theory. Savants who exhibit excellent musical talent (Young & Intellect, 1995) could be explained by them having a high capacity for musical intelligence but possessing low capacity for the other intelligences, which accounts for their low general levels of cognitive abilities.

Although some researchers argued that these abilities are skills that developed through practice, reports have mound that they in fact, develop without formal training (Snyder et al. , 2003). This supports the notion that savants are born with specific intelligences instead of acquiring skills that develop over time. The phenomenon of savants are also not consistent with unitary intelligence theories which propose that there is a common factor for intelligence. If savants possess low ‘Q, they should not display exceptional abilities. This can only be explained by using the multiple intelligences theory.

A study by Snyder, Bahrain, Hawker, and Mitchell (2006) examined whether savant- like skills exist in everyone. It was suggested that by using repetitive transactional magnetic stimulation (r TM’S) to inhibit specific brain abilities, savant-like skills can be temporarily activated in normal people. Participants included 12 right-handed volunteers who were not aware of the nature of the experiment. Rats was applied to the left anterior temporal lobe and participants took estimation performance tests before Rats, 15 minutes after Rats and one hour after Rats.

Results showed that participants improved in their ability to perform accurate estimation 15 minutes after Rats compared to the other two conditions. This study shows that through impairing a specific part of the brain, other intelligences such as savant-like abilities can be activated. An intelligence that was not present does not mean that it does not exist, but that the person has a low capacity for it. Therefore, the emergence of another talent that was not present before suggests that many forms of intelligence do exist in humans.

Furthermore, the technological breakthrough following the discovery of PET and fem. has revolutionized the understanding of the brain and its functions. Brain scans have shown that different parts of the brain are activated when artisans are exposed to different tasks. For example, it was found that the left inferior frontal cortex and the posterior inferior temporal cortex plays an important role in speech comprehension (Rood et al. , 2005), which represents Gardener’s linguistic intelligence.

Additionally, the right temporal lobe was found to affect musical timbre perception (Samson & Store, 1994), which represents Gardener’s musical intelligence. A study by Cohen et al. (1999) examined the region of the brain which controls social intelligence. Participants consisted of six patients with autism who are matched with 12 normal participants. They underwent two tasks, both which presented them with photographs of eyes, with one task requiring them to indicate the gender of the photographed person and the other task requiring them to indicate words which best describe the mental state of the person.

Results showed that normal participants performed better in these tasks compared to patients with autism, who lack social intelligence due to deficits in magical function. Also, fem. results indicated that the left magical was activated during these tasks involving social and emotion processing, and theory of mind. This study provides evidence that he brain consists of different regions that control different aspects of intelligence. As social and emotional intelligence relates to Gardener’s interpersonal and interpersonal intelligence, this further explains the existence of multiple intelligences.

In conclusion, intelligence is multifaceted, and Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences provides the best evidence in supporting this definition. Although often rejected due to its lack of empirical support, the advancement in technology has seen the emergence of tools, specifically the PET and fem., which enabled the brain to be measured. This led to scientific discoveries of the different functions of the brain, suggesting the existence of multiple intelligences. Gardener’s theory was able to explain the cultural differences in intelligence, which unitary intelligence theories were unable to.

Different cultures define intelligence differently and some are viewed as more important in a particular context. Thus, intelligence must be considered in many forms. Lastly, savants who possess extraordinary ability in a specific area but are intellectually impaired also provides evidence that one can possess different types of intelligences. Due to the importance of intelligence in modern day education, it is best defined as multifaceted as it highlights the point that every human possesses distinct and multiple forms of intellectual abilities, which are valued in their own societies.