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Howard Earl Gardner

American psychologist, educator, and creator of theory of multiple intelligence.

Howard Earl Gardner was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His parents, Ralph and Hilde (maiden name Weilheimer), were refugees from Nazi Germany. Gardner was a good student who greatly enjoyed playing the piano. In fact, he became an accomplished pianist as a child and considered becoming a professional pianist. While Gardner did not pursue becoming a professional pianist, he did teach piano from 1958 to 1969. The arts and teaching are interests he has pursued throughout his career.

Gardner received his B.A. summa cum laude in social relations from Harvard College in 1965 and his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 1971. At Harvard he studied with the renowned developmental psychologists Jerome Bruner and Erik Erikson, and the philosopher Nelson Goodman. He had thought he would research children and their artistic abilities but became fascinated with neuropsychology after attending a lecture on the subject given by Norman Geschwind, a well-known neuropsychologist. Indeed, Gardner went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship under Geschwind at the Boston Veterans Hospital where he worked for 20 years.

His research has focused for the most part on the nature of human intelligence, the nature of and development of abilities in the arts and how they relate to and reflect intelligence, and on educational processes. For numerous years, Gardner conducted research in symbol-using capacities in normal and gifted children, and in adults who had experienced brain damage. Through his efforts to bring these two areas of work together, he developed his theory of multiple types of intelligence, which he introduced in Frames of Mind (1983). Drawing on research in neuropsychology, he proposes that there are seven distinct types of intelligence, each based in a different area of the brain. Thus intelligence is not one general factor that underlies different abilities—the predominant belief upon which most intelligence tests had been based.

In the mid-1980s Gardner started to become involved in efforts to reform schools in the United States. He started to teach at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1986. He is now Co-Director of Harvard Project Zero, which he joined in the mid-1980s. Project Zero is a research group that studies human cognition, focusing on the arts in particular. Among other things, he and his colleagues have worked on designing performance-based tests and using the theory of multiple types of intelligence to create more individualized teaching and testing methods. Most recently, Gardner has become involved in carrying out long-term case studies of successful leaders and creators. One aspect of this work investigates the relationship between a person's production of exemplary work and his or her personal values.

Gardner is currently the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor in Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In addition he is Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and Adjunct Professor of Neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Gardner has written more than 400 research articles and twenty books. In The Mind's New Science (1985) Gardner discussed how cognitive science has the potential to understand creativity. Two later books, The Unschooled Mind (1991) and Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice (1993) spell out how his perspectives can be put into practice in education. Gardner's work has been highly influential. His books have been translated into 20 languages. In addition, he has been given honors by numerous psychological and educational organizations.

Gardner is married to Ellen Winner. He was divorced from the well-respected developmental psychologist, educator, and author Judith (Krieger) Gardner, who passed away in 1994. Gardner has four children.

See also Culture-fair test; Emotional intelligence

Marie Doorey

Further Reading

Cohen, D. "Howard Gardner." In Psychologists on Psychology, 2nd Ed. London and New York: Routledge, 1995. Pp. 97-105.

Nucci, L.P. "Gardner, Howard Earl." In Biographical dictionary of psychology. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

Obituary in The Boston Globe, Judith Gardner. November 29, 1994.

Harvard Website Short biography of Howard Gardner http://www.pz.harvard.edu/Pls/HG.htm

Further Information

Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Larsen Hall, Cambridge, MA, USA. 02138.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaFamous Psychologists & Scientists