Gardner is a witty author with strikingly brilliant mind and admirable reverence toward the human divinity. In his book, Gardner manifests the notion of intelligence, as a bio-psychological potential, a computational capacity and a mental chemistry set and subsequently sheds lights on the commonly misconceived concept of intelligence as a one-dimensional human potential, characterized by the g or IQ metrics.
With his eloquent style, Gardner articulates the social, educational and psychological impacts of the multiple-intelligence theory rendering speculation on how intelligence shows its multifaceted attributes in various forms such as Mathematical-Logical, Kinesthetic, Musical, IntEr-personal, IntrA-personal, Linguistic, Spatial, Naturalistic and Existentialist abilities.
Upon reading the book, I found some interesting answers to my life-long inquiries regarding to the intelligence such as;
1. Why individuals with strong abilities in certain areas of mathematics, such as algebra or probability theory do not necessarily indicate strengths in other areas of mathematical sciences such as geometry or topology?
2. How the society can take advantage of the MI theory to bridge between the ethical values and individuals' capacities.
3. How a creative educator can achieve the "understanding" by exercising various avenues, such as foundational, quantitative, aesthetic, logical and existential methods to stir and incite the human intellect.
Gardner makes no effort to back up his hypothesis through psychometric experiments and I believe he has done this deliberately. More specifically, he believes any effort to benchmark the performances of individuals against these metrics would create a new version of human labeling, a concept that he certainly refrains to delve and investigate. Instead of putting effort in benchmarking these abilities in human minds, he believes efforts need to be made to identify, enhance and exercise the abilities that help the individuals to thrive in the areas that they have been blessed with, irrespective of society norms.
Chapter 1 of the book contains the highlights of his theory and covers various forms of intelligence. The introduction of the existential intelligence as a form of computational capacity is rather unpersuasive, knowing the fact that it is defined as an attribute (intelligence of big questions) and not as a mental ability. Favorite quote of this chapter;
"Having strong intelligence does not mean that one necessarily acts intelligently".
Chapter 2 of the book covers the semantics of the intelligence. An interesting topic in this chapter is the profile of the intelligence in which Gardner discusses how the intensity, diversity and locality of these potentials in an individual can result in spot-light or laser characteristics.
Chapter 3 provides a chronologic view of intelligence. Gardner tries to provide a simplified and standardized conception of the intelligence development across the life span of a human being. He also discusses the framework for the analysis and examination of the human intellect. This chapter is quite dry and lacks ardor. In my opinion, putting framework around something that has no boundary is rather counterintuitive.
Chapter 4 is the prelude of the educational impact of the intelligence. The very interesting topic in this section is the subject of "Multiple Representation of the Key Concepts". Resorting to the notion of multiple-intelligences, Gardner believes that there are numerous ways that an educator can approach a topic in pursuit of understanding. This methodology also helps students to think about a problem in a variety of ways, triggering the thought process in the most diverse form.
Chapter 5 is a pool of questions that individuals have asked Gardner regarding to his theories. Of special interest in this section is the topic of memory and its different faculties such as procedural memory, propositional memory, semantic memory, short and long-term memories. I believe this topic deserved more elaboration, or at minimum more references.
Favorite quote from this chapter:
"I often encounter the greatest resistance to this perspective when I speak to mathematicians or logicians. To these individuals, thinking is critical thinking, wherever you encounter it; if one knows how to be logical, one should be able to apply logic everywhere (And if you don't, life is hopeless !)".
Chapters 6 to 10 have heavy weights toward education. Of special interest is the chapter 8 and the topic on multiple entry point toward disciplinary understanding.
Gardner discusses how an informed educator can use various entry points, such as narrational, logical, quantitative, foundational, aesthetic, experimental and collaborative methods in approaching the topic. The examples given in this section are extremely valuable for all educators.
As you progress toward the end chapters, the modality of manuscript transitions toward ethics. To some extent, the progression of the thought process in this book is analogous to Gardner's perspective toward the subject; in his early life his motivation toward intelligence was mainly driven and influenced by cognitive sciences and psychometric studies, whereas his recent research and interest have roots in social impacts, ethics and humanity.
In summary, this book is an instant classic on the topic of multiple-intelligences, a must have book for the fireside at home.