Howard Gardner

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Howard Gardner
Gardner in 2013
Howard Earl Gardner

(1943-07-11) July 11, 1943 (age 80)
EducationHarvard University (BA, PhD)
London School of Economics
Known forTheory of multiple intelligences
SpouseEllen Winner
Scientific career
FieldsPsychology, education
InstitutionsHarvard University

Howard Earl Gardner (born July 11, 1943) is an American developmental psychologist and the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Research Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard University. He was a founding member of Harvard Project Zero in 1967 and held leadership roles at that research center from 1972 to 2023. Since 1995, he has been the co-director of The Good Project.[1]

Gardner has written hundreds of research articles[2] and over thirty books that have been translated into over 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.[1]

Gardner retired from teaching in 2019.[3] In 2020, he published his intellectual memoir A Synthesizing Mind.[4] He continues his research and writing, including several blogs.

Early life[edit]

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 just prior to World War II.[5]

Gardner described himself as "a studious child who gained much pleasure from playing the piano".[6] Although Gardner never became a professional pianist, he taught piano intermittently from 1958 to 1969.[2]

Education was of the utmost importance in the Gardner home. While his parents had hoped that he would attend Phillips Academy in Andover 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.[7]


Gardner in his earlier years

Gardner graduated from Harvard College with highest honors in 1965 with a BA in Social Relations, and studied under the renowned Erik Erikson. After spending one year at the London School of Economics, he went on to obtain his PhD in developmental psychology at Harvard while working with psychologists Roger Brown and Jerome Bruner, and philosopher Nelson Goodman.[5]

For his postdoctoral fellowship, Gardner worked alongside neurologist Norman Geschwind at Boston Veterans Administration Hospital and continued his work there for another 20 years.[2] In 1986, Gardner became a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Since 1995, much of the focus of his work has been on The GoodWork Project, now part of a larger initiative known as The Good Project that encourages excellence, ethics, and engagement in work, digital life, and civic society.

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. Since then, Gardner has published books on a number of topics including Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds, Five Minds for the Future, Truth, Beauty and Goodness Reframed, and The App Generation (written with Katie Davis).[5]

Since 2012, Gardner has been co-directing a major study of higher education in the United States with Wendy Fischman and several other colleagues.[8] Information about the study, including several dozen blogs, is available on Gardner's website.[8] In March 2022, MIT Press published Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner's book The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be.[9]

At the start of 2024, Gardner was the most cited Educational Scholar in the United States, according to the Edu-Scholar Public Influence Ratings.[10]

In 2024, Teachers College Press will publish two collections of Gardner’s papers: The Essential Howard Gardner on Education and The Essential Howard Gardner on Mind.[11]

Theory and criticism[edit]

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, as well as traditional measures like IQ tests that typically only account for linguistic, logical, and spatial abilities. Since 1999, Gardner has identified eight intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.[12] Gardner and colleagues have also considered two additional intelligences, existential and pedagogical.[13][14] Many teachers, school administrators, and special educators have been inspired by Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.[15]

Gardner's definition of intelligence has been met with some criticism in education circles[16] as well as in the field of psychology. Perhaps the strongest and most enduring critique of his theory of multiple intelligences centers on its lack of empirical evidence, much of which points to a single construct of intelligence called "g".[17] Gardner has responded that his theory is based entirely on empirical evidence as opposed to experimental evidence, as he does not believe experimental evidence in itself can yield a theoretical synthesis.[18][19]

Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences can be seen as both a departure from and a continuation of the 20th 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.

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 a wide variety of educational arenas.[20] Howard Gardner and David Perkins were founding Research Assistants and later Co-Directed Project Zero from 1972 to 2000. Project Zero's mission is to understand and enhance learning, thinking, and creativity in the arts, as well as a broad range of humanistic and scientific disciplines at the individual and institutional levels.[21]

Good Project founders: William Damon, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Gardner

For over 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. With colleagues Lynn Barendsen, Courtney Bither, Shelby Clark, Wendy Fischman, Carrie James, Kirsten McHugh, and Danny Mucinskas, Gardner has developed curricular toolkits on these topics for use in educational and professional circles.[22]

Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences posits that individuals possess varied forms of intelligence.[23] Initially introduced in 1983 in his renowned book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardner, a developmental psychologist, challenged the limitations of traditional psychometric intelligence assessments. He proposed the existence of eight intelligences, with potential for additional categories such as "existentialist intelligence."

Achievements and awards[edit]

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.[24] 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.[25] In 1987, he received the William James Award from the American Psychological Association.[26] SUNY Plattsburgh inducted Gardner selected Gardner for honoris causa membership in Omicron Delta Kappa in 1998. In 1999, Gardner received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[27] 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.[28] In 2011, he won the Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences for his development of multiple intelligences theory.[28] In 2015, he received the Brock International Prize in Education.[29] In 2020, Gardner received the Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award from the American Education Research Association.[30]

He has received honorary degrees from 31 colleges and universities around the world, including institutions in Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, South Korea, and Spain.[31] He is also a member of several honorary societies: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society,[32] National Academy of Education, and the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Personal life[edit]

Howard Gardner is married to Ellen Winner, Professor Emerita of Psychology at Boston College. They have one child, Benjamin. Gardner has three children from an earlier marriage: Kerith (1969), Jay (1971), and Andrew (1976); and five grandchildren: Oscar (2005), Agnes (2011), Olivia (2015), Faye Marguerite (2016), and August Pierre (2019).[6]


  1. ^ a b 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. October 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Doorey, Marie (2001). "Gardner, Howard Earl". In Bonnie R. Strickland (ed.). The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology (2nd ed.). Detroit, MI: Gale Group. pp. 272–273, 699. ISBN 978-0-7876-4786-5. Retrieved December 7, 2014. a part of the Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  3. ^ "A Tribute to Howard Gardner". May 21, 2019.
  4. ^ "A Synthesizing Mind". A Synthesizing Mind. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  5. ^ a b c "About". Howard Gardner. 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  6. ^ a b "Howard Gardner Project Zero Biography". Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  7. ^ 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. December 10, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Higher Education in the 21st Century". Howard Gardner. 2020-02-06. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  9. ^ "Higher Education in the 21st Century". Howard Gardner. 2020-02-06. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  10. ^ Hess, Frederick (January 4, 2024). "The 2024 Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings". Education Next.
  11. ^ "Howard Gardner | Teachers College Press". Retrieved 2024-01-26.
  12. ^ "Understanding Multiple Intelligences Theory". Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  13. ^ "The Theory of Multiple Intelligences: As Psychology, As Education, As Social Science Howard Gardner" (PDF). Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  14. ^ "Home - Mi Oasis". Mi Oasis. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  15. ^ 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. December 8, 2014.
  16. ^ "Reframing the Mind". 30 June 2006.
  17. ^ 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. JSTOR 1585969.
  18. ^ Gardner, Howard (2006). "On failing to grasp the core of MI theory: A response to Visser et al". Intelligence. 34 (5): 503–505. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2006.04.002.
  19. ^ Gardner, Howard; Moran, Seana (2006). "The science of multiple intelligences theory: A response to Lynn Waterhouse". Educational Psychologist. 41 (4): 227–232. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep4104_2. S2CID 15751192.
  20. ^ "Project Zero: History". Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  21. ^ "Harvard Project Zero". Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  22. ^ Mucinskas, Daniel; Gardner, Howard (2013). "Educating for Good Work: From Research to Practice". British Journal of Educational Studies. 61 (4): 453–470. doi:10.1080/00071005.2013.829210. S2CID 144937894.
  23. ^ "Multiple Intelligences - Howard Gardner". Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  24. ^ "1990 - Howard Gardner". Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  25. ^ "National psychology awards for excellence in the media". Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  26. ^ "Howard Gardner, 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences - The Prince of Asturias Foundation". Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  27. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  28. ^ a b "Howard Gardner, 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences - The Prince of Asturias Foundation". Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  29. ^ "Brock International Prize in Education Laureates". Archived from the original on October 17, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  30. ^ "AERA Announces 2020 Award Winners in Education Research". Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  31. ^ "Howard Gardner". Archived from the original on August 15, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  32. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2021-05-24.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]