Howard Gardner

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Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner.jpg
Born Howard Earl Gardner
(1943-07-11) July 11, 1943 (age 74)
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Fields Psychology, education
Institutions Harvard University
Alma mater Harvard College
Known for theory of multiple intelligences
Influences Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, Nelson Goodman[1]
Spouse Ellen Winner
Official website

Howard Earl Gardner (born July 11, 1943) is an American developmental psychologist and the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. He is currently the senior director of Harvard Project Zero, and since 1995, he has been the co-director of the Good Project.[2]

Gardner has written hundreds of research articles[3] and thirty books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. He is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, as outlined in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.[2]


Early life

Howard Earl Gardner was born July 11, 1943 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Ralph Gardner and Hilde (née Weilheimer) Gardner, German-Jewish immigrants who fled Germany prior to World War 2.[4]

Gardner described himself as "a studious child who gained much pleasure from playing the piano".[5] Although Gardner never became a professional pianist, he taught piano from 1958 to 1969.[3]

Education was of the utmost importance in the Gardner home. While his parents had hoped that he would attend Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts, Gardner opted to attend a school closer to his hometown in Pennsylvania, Wyoming Seminary. Gardner had a desire to learn and greatly excelled in school.[6]


Gardner graduated from Harvard University in 1965 with an A.B. in social relations, and studied under the renowned Erik Erikson. He would go on to obtain his Ph.D. in developmental psychology at Harvard while working with psychologists Roger Brown and Jerome Bruner, and philosopher Nelson Goodman.[4]

For his postdoctoral fellowship, Gardner worked alongside Norman Geschwind at Boston Veterans Administration Hospital and continued his work there for another 20 years.[3] Gardner began teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1986. Since 1995, much of the focus of his work has been on the Good Work Project, now known as the Good Project.

In 2000, Gardner, Kurt Fischer, and their colleagues at the Harvard Graduate School of Education established the master's degree program in Mind, Brain and Education. This program was thought to be the first of its kind around the world. Many universities in both the United States and abroad have since developed similar programs. Four years later in 2004, Gardner would continue writing about the mind and brain and would publish Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds, a book about seven forms of mind-change.[4]

Theory and criticism

According to Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, humans have several different ways of processing information and these ways are relatively independent of one another. The theory is a critique of the standard intelligence theory, which emphasizes the correlation among abilities. Since 1999, Gardner has identified eight intelligences: linguistic, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Gardner is informally considering two additional intelligences, existential and pedagogical.[7][8] Many teachers, school administrators, and special educators have been inspired by Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences as it has allowed for the idea that there is more than one way to define a person's intellect.[9]

Gardner's definition of intelligence has been widely criticized in education circles [10] as well as in the field of psychology. Perhaps the strongest and most enduring critique of his theory of multiple intelligences centers on its supposed lack of empirical evidence.[11] Gardner responds that his theory is based entirely on empirical evidence as opposed to experimental evidence, as he does not believe experimental evidence is appropriate for a theoretical synthesis.[12][13]

Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences can be seen as both a departure from and a continuation of the last century's work on the subject of human intelligence. Other prominent psychologists whose contributions variously developed or expanded the field of study include Charles Spearman, Louis Thurstone, Edward Thorndike, and Robert Sternberg, to name a few.

In 1967, Professor Nelson Goodman started an educational program called Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which began with a focus in arts education and now spans throughout a wide variety of educational arenas.[14] Howard Gardner and David Perkins were founding Research Assistants and 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.[15]

Good Project founders. From left: William Damon, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Gardner

For almost two decades, in collaboration with William Damon, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and several other colleagues, Gardner has been directing research at the Good Project on the nature of good work, good play, and good collaboration. The goal of his research is to determine what it means to achieve work that is at once excellent, engaging, and carried out in an ethical way. Going beyond research, with colleagues Lynn Barendsen, Wendy Fischman, and Carrie James, the Gardner team has developed Toolkits for use in educational and professional circles.[16]

Achievements and awards

In 1981 Gardner was the recipient of a MacArthur Prize Fellowship. In 1990 he became the first American to receive the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education.[17] In 1985, The National Psychology Awards for Excellence in the Media, awarded Gardner The Book Award for Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which was published by Basic Books.[18] In 1987, he received the William James Award from the American Psychological Association.[19] In 2000 he received a fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Four years later he was named an Honorary Professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai. In the years 2005 and 2008 he was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the top 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world.[20] In 2011, he won the Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences for his development of multiple intelligences theory.[20] In 2015, he received the Brock International Prize in Education.

He has received 30 honorary degrees from colleges and universities around the world, including institutions in Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, and South Korea.[21]

Personal life

Howard is married to Ellen Winner. They have one child, Benjamin. Gardner has three children from an earlier marriage: Kerith (1969), Jay (1971) and Andrew (1976); and three grandchildren, Oscar (2005), Agnes (2011), and Olivia (2015).[5]


  1. Winner, Ellen. "The History of Howard Gardner". 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gordon, Lynn Melby. "Gardner, Howard (1943–)." Encyclopedia of Human Development. Ed. Neil J. Salkind. Vol. 2. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2006. 552-553. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Doorey, Marie (2001). Bonnie R. Strickland, executive editor, eds. Gardner, Howard Earl. The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology (2nd ed.). Detroit, MI: Gale Group. pp. 272–273,699. ISBN 0-7876-4786-1. Retrieved 2014-12-07.  a part of the Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Anderman, Eric; Anderman, Lynley, eds. (2009). Psychology of Classroom Learning: An Encyclopedia. 1. Detroit, USA: Macmillan Reference. pp. 423–425. Retrieved 28 Dec 2014.  a part of the Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Howard Gardner Project Zero Biography". Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  6. Webber, Jacob. "Gardner, Howard." Encyclopedia of the History of Psychological Theories. Ed. Robert W. Rieber. Vol. 1. New York: Springer, 2012. 464-465. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.
  7. "The Theory of Multiple Intelligences: As Psychology, As Education, As Social Science Howard Gardner" (PDF). Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  8. "Home - Mi Oasis". Mi Oasis. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  9. Gordon, Lynn Melby. "Gardner, Howard (1943–)." Encyclopedia of Human Development. Ed. Neil J. Salkind. Vol. 2. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2006. 552-553. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.
  11. Klein, Perry D. (1998), "A Response to Howard Gardner: Falsifiability, Empirical Evidence, and Pedagogical Usefulness in Educational Psychologies", Canadian Journal of Education 23 (1): 103–112, doi:10.2307/1585969
  12. Gardner, Howard. "On failing to grasp the core of MI theory: A response to Visser et al." Intelligence, 34(5), 503–505, 2006. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2006.04.002.
  13. Gardner, Howard & Seana Moran. "The science of multiple intelligences theory: A response to Lynn Waterhouse." Educational Psychologist, 41(4), 227-232. 2006. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep4104_2
  14. "Project Zero: History". Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  15. "Harvard Project Zero". Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  16. "Educating for Good Work: From Research to Practice". Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  17. "1990 - Howard Gardner". Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  18. "National psychology awards for excellence in the media.". Retrieved 2014-10-12. 
  19. "Howard Gardner, 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences - The Prince of Asturias Foundation". Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Howard Gardner, 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences - The Prince of Asturias Foundation". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  21. "Howard Gardner". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 

Further reading

  • Kincheloe, Joe L., ed. (2004). Multiple Intelligences Reconsidered. Counterpoints v. 278. New York: Peter Lang. ISBN 978-0-8204-7098-6. ISSN 1058-1634. 
  • Howard Gardner (2006). Schaler, Jeffrey A., ed. "A Blessing of Influences" in Howard Gardner Under Fire. Illinois: Open Court. ISBN 978-0-8126-9604-2. 
  • Howard Gardner (1989). To Open Minds: Chinese Clues to the Dilemma of American Education. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-08629-0. 
  • Howard Gardner, Vea Vecchi, Carla Rinaldi, Paola Cagliari (2011). Making learning visible. Italy: Reggio Children. ISBN 978-88-87960-67-9. 
  • M. Kornhaber (2001). Palmer, Joy, ed. "Howard Gardner" in Fifty Modern Thinkers in Education. New York: Routledge. ISBN 041522408X. 
  • Tom Butler-Bowdon (2007). "Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind" in 50 Psychology Classics. London & Boston: Nicholas Brealey. ISBN 978-1-85788-386-2. 
  • Gordon, L. M. (2006). Howard Gardner. "The encyclopedia of human development." Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2, 552-553.
  • Gardner, Howard (2011). Truth, beauty, and goodness reframed: Educating for the virtues in the 21st century. New York: Basic Books. 
  • Gardner, H. & Davis, K. (2013). The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300196214. 
  • Schneider, Jack. (2014). From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse: How Scholarship Becomes Common Knowledge in Education. Harvard Education Press. ISBN 978-1612506692. 
  • Gardner, Howard. (2014). Mind, Work, and Life: A Festschrift on the Occasion of Howard Gardner's 70th Birthday. Create Space. ISBN 978-1499381702. 

External links