P.O. BOX 1586







Ms. Sharon Buzzard -- Supervisor of Gifted Education, East Liverpool Ohio Schools and Past President of the Ohio Association for Gifted Children

Dr. James Delisle -- Professor and Co-Director of SENG, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Dr. Jerry Flack --Univ. Of Colorado-Colorado Springs

Dr. Howard Gardner -- Professor, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Ms. Diane D. Grybek -- Supervisor of Secondary Gifted Programs (Retired), Hillsborough County Schools, Tampa, Florida

Ms. Dorothy Knopper -- Publisher, Open Space Communications, Boulder, Colorado

Mr. James LoGiudice -- Director, Program and Staff Development, Bucks County, Pennsylvania Intermediate Unit No. 22 and Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education

Dr. Mary Meeker -- President of SOI Systems, Vida, Oregon

Dr. Adrienne O'Neill - Director of Graduate Studies, Caldwell College, Caldwell, New Jersey

Dr. Stephen Schroeder-Davis -- Coordinator of Gifted Programs, Elk River, Minnesota Schools and Past President of the Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented

Dr. Bruce Shore -- Professor and Director, Giftedness Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Ms. Joan Smutny -- Professor and Director, Center for Gifted, National-Louis University, Evanston, Illinois

Dr. Virgil S. Ward -- Emeritus Professor of Gifted Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

Ms. Susan Winebrenner -- Consultant, Brooklyn, Michigan

Congratulations to Joan Smutny for receiving a Distinguished Service Award from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)! This award was for her effective activities in recruiting new members.

During our ten years of publishing GEPQ, we have attempted to establish a balance between conceptually based and applied articles. But the former types have not been readily available because there are few individuals who concentrate on theoretical problems in the gifted field. This issue helps to remedy the situation by presenting an article by Professor Howard Gardner which proposes to extend Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory beyond the original number seven. Because of space limitations, it is presented in two parts: (Part One, Spring 1997 issue) — an overview of MI theory and discussion of a new candidate intelligence, Naturalist intelligence; and (Part Two, Summer 1997 issue) -- a discussion of two more candidate intelligences in the Spiritual and Existential areas.

Although Gardner’s work applies to children of all abilities, it obviously has great importance for the identification and education of gifted children. Since he first introduced the concept of Multiple Intelligences in Frames of Mind (1983), educators have applied the seven intelligences to identifying and teaching children with different types of abilities. However, educators of the gifted have been slow to use MI theory, primarily because of historical precedents set by general (“g”) factor theories of intelligence — as exemplified by the Stanford-Binet Test of Intelligence (first published in 1916). The widespread use of MI theory in the gifted field would eventually lead to more effective differentiated services for children with different types of abilities, and the resulting programs would be strengthened because of their reliance on the solid theoretical foundation developed by Gardner.

The second article in this issue, by Colleen Willard-Holt , Ph.D. and Dan G. Holt , Ph.D., discusses how MI theory can be used to identify and design programs for different types of giftedness. Both authors have been involved in gifted education for more than 15 years as parents, educators, researchers, conference presenters, and board members of a state gifted organization. Colleen is currently on the faculty of Penn State Harrisburg, and Dan is an author and consultant to educational agencies and businesses in the areas of giftedness, humor, stress, art and creativity.

Next, Ross Butchart discusses the new programs for gifted children in the Vancouver, B.C. Public Schools. In the concluding essay, Michael Walters of New York City highlights the work of the great Harvard psychologist, William James.

Maurice D. Fisher, Ph.D., Publisher


* © 1996, Howard Gardner, Harvard Project Zero



I. The Magic Number Seven

In Frames of Mind, originally published in 1983, I rejected the notion, widely held among scientists and laypersons, that human intelligence should be considered as a unitary trait or ability (Gardner, 1993a). Rather, in line with theorists like L. L. Thurstone (1938) and J. P. Guilford (1967), I argued that the human intellect is best construed as at least seven, relatively autonomous faculties. Only two of these faculties--linguistic and logical-mathematical--fall comfortably within the usual definitions of intelligence; and only these two lend themselves readily to testing in standardized short-answer formats. The other five intelligences--spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal--have in the past either been considered to be talents, or have been deemed outside the permissible scope of human intellect.

Most previous studies of intelligence--whether of the unitary or the pluralistic stripe--have arrived at their conclusions through the scrutiny of test scores, and, particularly, the examination of correlations among scores on a variety of sub-tests. Those who favor a unitary view see the various tests as reflections, to a greater or lesser degree, of a single underlying factor of "g" or general intelligence (Herrnstein and Murray, 1994). Those who are partial to a pluralistic view look at the test scores--indeed, sometimes at the very same scores--and discern instead a series of relatively independent factors, organized either hierarchically or heterarchically (Gould 1981; Sternberg 1982).

My approach to the study of intelligence was unusual, if not unique, in that it minimized the importance of tests and of correlations among test scores. Rather, I proceeded from a definition and a set of criteria. As laid out in Frames of Mind and other documents of the period (Gardner, 1993b), I defined an intelligence as the ability to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in at least one culture or community. I then went on to specify eight criteria for an intelligence:

1) identifiable core operation(s);

2) evolutionary history and evolutionary plausibility;

3) recognizable end-state and distinctive developmental trajectory;

4) existence of savants, prodigies, and other individuals distinguished by the presence or absence of specific abilities;

5) potential isolation by brain damage;

6) support from experimental psychological tasks;

7) support from psychometric findings;

8) susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system (Gardner, 1993a, Chapter 4).

While none of the candidate intelligences fulfilled all of these criteria perfectly, each of the seven intelligences itemized above satisfied the majority of the criteria.

In Frames of Mind I made it clear that there was nothing sacred about the list of seven intelligences. If there were seven, I indicated, more would surely be discovered. Moreover, each of the original seven intelligences itself harbored subcomponents or constituent intelligences; it was a matter of expository convenience, rather than logical or scientific necessity, that gave rise to the original, readily-described ensemble of intelligences.

Since the theory of multiple intelligences first gained attention, I have repeatedly been asked whether I have expanded the list of intelligences. To fob off this question, I devised the following light-hearted response. "My students have often asked me whether there is a cooking intelligence, a humor intelligence, and/or a sexual intelligence. They have concluded that I can only recognize those intelligences that I myself possess." More seriously, I have contem-plated a number of candidate additional intelligences but until now have thought it prudent not to expand the list.

In this paper, I consider directly the evidence for three "new" candidate intelligences: a Naturalist Intelligence, a Spiritual Intelligence, and an Existential Intelligence. As I explain below, the evidence for a naturalist intelligence is stronger, and less ambiguous than the evidence for a spiritual intelligence; hence I end up adding the naturalist intelligence to my list. The realm of the spiritual, as typically defined, does not fall comfortably under the rubric of intelligence as I construe it. However, evidence for a related "existential" intelligence is more persuasive.

In the end, whether to declare a human capacity as a "new intelligence" is a judgment call. The deeper purpose of this paper is to explore once more how one goes about identifying an intelligence and to reveal my reservations about extending the concept in less secure directions.

II. The Naturalist Intelligence

When presenting my concept of intelligences, I generally introduce each intelligence through the vehicle of an "end-state"--a socially recognized and valued role which appears to rely heavily on a particular intellectual capacity. Thus, I designate a poet to denote linguistic intelligence, a computer scientist to indicate logical-mathematical intelligence, a salesperson or clinical psychologist to convey interpersonal intelligence, and the like.

The very term "naturalist" combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of the role that is valued in many cultures. A naturalist is an individual who demonstrates expertise in the recognition and classification of the numerous species--the flora and fauna--of his or her environment. Every culture places a premium on those individuals who can recognize members of a species that are especially valuable or notably dangerous, and can appropriately categorize new or unfamiliar organisms. In cultures without formal science, the naturalist is the individual most skilled in the application of the current "folk taxonomies" (Berlin, 1992); in cultures with a scientific orientation, the naturalist is a biologist who recognizes and categorizes specimens in terms of current formal taxonomies, such as those devised by Linnaeus.

In our own culture, the word "naturalist" is readily applied to those individuals whose knowledge of the living world is outstanding, like John James Audubon, Roger Torrey Peterson, or Rachel Carson, as well as those individuals who study organisms for more theoretically-oriented purposes, such as Charles Darwin, Louis Aggasiz, Ernst Mayr, or E. O. Wilson. It is notable that Darwin commented he was "born a naturalist" (Browne, 1995) and that Wilson entitled his recent autobiography Naturalist (1994)). Indeed, it was my recognition that such individuals could not readily be classified in terms of the seven antecedent intelligences that led me to consider an additional form of intelligence.

While one tends to think of the naturalist's abilities as being exercised chiefly with respect to plants and animals that are seen with the naked eye, I construe their scope more broadly. To begin with, there is no need to restrict the application to ordinary vision; any distinction that can be made and justified under magnification is equally valid. By the same token, species recognition by no means depends upon vision; blind individuals can be extremely acute in recognizing species and one of the leading naturalists of our time--Geermat Vermij--operates by touch (Yoon, 1995). Also, it seems reasonable to assume that the capacities of the naturalist can be brought to bear on items that are artificial. The young child who can readily discriminate plants or birds or dinosaurs from one another is drawing on the same skills (or intelligence) when he or she classifies instances of the categories of sneakers, cars, sound systems, or CDs.

Just as recognition of tones and melodies is the core of musical intelligence, so, recognition of species membership is the core of the naturalist's intelligence. It is worth noting that a full-blown naturalist goes well beyond such taxonomic capacities. Exhibiting what Wilson (1984) has termed biophilia, he or she is comfortable in the world of organisms and may well possess the talent of caring, taming, or interacting subtly with a variety of living creatures. It is also possible, though more speculative, that the pattern-recognizing talents of many artists and natural scientists are built upon the fundamental perceptual skills of naturalist intelli-gence.

Judged in terms of the eight criteria proposed in Frames of Mind, the naturalist's intelligence proves quite as firmly entrenched as the other intelligences. There are, to begin with, the core capacities to recognize instances as members of a group (more formally, a species), to distinguish among members of species, to recognize the existence of other neighboring species, and to chart out the relations, formally or informally, among the several species. Clearly, the importance of a naturalistic intelligence is well established in evolutionary history, where the survival of an organism has been dependent upon its ability to discriminate among quite similar species, avoiding some (predators), and ferreting out others (for prey or play). The naturalist's capacity presents itself not only in those primates that are evolutionarily closest to human beings; birds are also readily capable of discerning the differences among species of plants and animals (including ones not in their "normal" expected environment) and can even recognize members of the class of human beings from photographs. (Edelman, 1995; Herrnstein and Loveland, 1964; Wasserman, 1994).

Turning to the role of the naturalist in human culture, I have already mentioned some end-states that foreground the naturalist's intelligence; it goes without saying that many other roles, ranging from hunter to fisherman to farmer to gardener to cook, exploit this ability. Even apparently remote capacities, such as recognition of automobiles from the sound of the engine, or the detection of a novel pattern in the scientific laboratory or the discernment of artistic style, may exploit mechanisms that originally evolved because of their efficacy in distinguishing between toxic and non-toxic ivies or snakes. Quite possibly, the patterns of life discerned--though put to contrasting ends--by poets and by social scientists draw as well on the naturalist intelligence.

Moreover, a scale ranging from novice to expert can be stipulated for a budding naturalist (Carey, 1985; Chi, 1988; Keil, 1994). At the early stages, no formal instruction is necessary, but entire formal fields of study, such as botany or entomology, have been constructed as a means of aiding the development and deployment of the skills of the naturalist.

An important source of information about the independence of an intelligence comes from studies that identify individuals who either excel at, or lack, a certain capacity, as well as neural regions that appear to subserve these capacities. Thus, the existence and independence of musical and linguistic intelligence is underscored by the identification of brain centers that mediate linguistic and musical processing, as well as individuals, ranging from prodigies to savants, who feature singular capacities that are either precocious or surprisingly lacking.

Just as most ordinary individuals readily master language at an early age, so, too, most youngsters are predisposed to explore the naturalist's world with some avidity. The popularity of dinosaurs among five year olds is no accident! However, there is little question that certain young children stand out in terms of their early interest in the natural world and their acute capacities to identify and to commit to memory a large number of distinctions. As noted in biographies of great biologists, they routinely document an early fascination with plants and animals and a drive to identify, classify, and interact with them. Such scientists as Charles Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould, and E. O. Wilson are only the most visible members of this cohort; studies of biologically-oriented scientists confirm this pattern (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Roe, 1953; Taylor & Barron, 1963; Zuckerman, 1977). Interestingly, these patterns are not echoed in the lives of physical scientists, who are more likely to explore the behavior of invisible forces or to play with mechanical or chemical systems; nor in the biographies of social scientists, who are more likely to be engaged in verbal activities, in the reading of non-fiction, or in searching interactions with other persons.

Just as certain individuals appear to have gifts in the recognition of naturalistic patterns, others are impaired in this respect. The most dramatic examples occur in cases of brain damage where individuals remain able to recognize and name inanimate objects but lose the capacity to identify and to name instances of living things. This distinction has long been reported in the clinical literature (Konorski 1967; Nielsen 1946) and recently has been confirmed by experimental findings (Caramazza, et al. 1994; Damasio and Damasio 1995; Martin, et al. 1996; Warrington and Shallice 1984).

Just which neural centers are involved in this capacity remains somewhat controversial, and, as in the case of musical aptitude, such species recognition may well be represented in different ways in different individuals depending, for example, on whether the species are known primarily through graphic illustrations or by virtue of direct interactions with the plants or animals in question. Yet, because the human naturalistic capacity would appear to be closely related to that of other animals, it should be possible to confirm which brain regions are likely to be crucial in naturalistic perception. The identification of neural networks involved in particular forms of recognition--such as face or paw recognition--may provide important clues for this undertaking (Damasio, 1994; Gross, 1973).

To my knowledge, the capacity of the naturalist has not been of much interest to psychologists. Indeed, psychologists have traditionally strained to use artificial stimuli (e.g., geometric forms) and have thus avoided those stimuli that would be most likely to elicit more natural forms of categorization. Similarly, testmakers have rarely if ever included items that assess skill at categorizing species membership (or other naturalist skills).

An important exception to this statement is work on categorization by Eleanor Rosch and her associates (1976; see also Neisser, 1976); these studies suggest the existence of special psychological mechanisms that identify "natural kinds" (e.g., birds, trees) and that organize such concepts not in terms of lists of defining attributes but rather by virtue of their resemblance to prototypes (how "birdlike" or "tree-like" is the organism in question?). Much of children's early language learning and classification also seems to build upon these natural forms of categorization rather than those forms that have evolved (or have been recast) to deal with man-made objects.

The final criterion for an intelligence is its susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system. The extensive linguistic and taxonomic systems that exist in every culture for the classifying of plants and animals testify to the universality of this feature. (In Western culture, we are especially indebted to Aristotle and Linnaeus). Works of art--ranging from cave paintings to ritual dances to choreographers’ notations--represent other ways of "fixing" the identifying features of phenomena of the naturalist's world. Much of religious and spiritual life, including vital rites, also draws upon the natural world and attempts to capture it or to comment upon it in ways valued within a culture.

This review of a candidate intelligence--in this case, the naturalist's intelligence--reveals a capacity that clearly merits addition to the list of the original seven. Those valued human cognitions, which I previously had to ignore, or to smuggle in under spatial or logical-mathematical intelligence, deserve to be gathered together under a single, recognized rubric. Eschewing formal ceremony, I mark this acknowledgment of an eighth intelligence by simple performative speech act. The above review serves as a reminder of the procedure by which it should be possible in the future to review and, if appropriate, include additional capacities within the family of human intelligences.






The theory of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1983) has important implications for gifted education in the areas of identification and differentiated curriculum development. Prior to considering these in detail, several principles key to the theory of Multiple Intelligences must be discussed in light of gifted education. First, all people possess all intelligences, but the pattern of strengths and weaknesses differentiates among us. This principle must be considered as gifted program offerings are designed: which intelligence(s) will be addressed by the program? or, alternatively, how will giftedness be defined in light of the intelligences? Second, most people can develop all of the intelligences to an adequate level of competency. This is why intentional nurturing of all of them is so important, providing a framework for regular classroom enrichment. Third, there are many ways to be intelligent in each category. This has implications for identification of giftedness; our assessment tools must be expanded to broader conceptions of intelligence.

Fourth, the intelligences work together in complex ways. Most complex activities require the simultaneous use of several intelligences. A football quarterback, for example, uses bodily/kinesthetic intelligence to pass and run; spatial intelligence to plan plays; and interpersonal intelligence to lead the other players. A scientist uses logical/mathematical intelligence to plan an experiment; bodily/ kinesthetic intelligence to carry out lab procedures; and linguistic intelligence to report her results. In school, the majority of subjects can be approached using three or more intelligences. Gifted students may be taught how to optimize the combination of strengths they possess, and to analyze problems in terms of which intelligences would be most applicable.

How Multiple Intelligences Relate to Identification of Giftedness

Most of our current gifted programs relate to the linguistic and/or logical/mathematical intelligences. Not only are these the main areas that are tapped by our current "intelligence" tests, but they are also the ones most emphasized and valued in schools. Interestingly enough, these are also the intelligences most often affected by learning disabilities.

Thus, our gifted programs are nurturing the same two intelligences which are emphasized by educational programs in general. Meanwhile, we neglect students who are talented in other areas. As long as the field is satisfied with a narrow view of intelligence, this imbalance will continue. Consider the following:

"Failure to help the handicapped child reach his potential is a personal tragedy for him and his family; failure to help the gifted child reach his potential is a societal tragedy, the extent of which is difficult to measure but which is surely great. How can we measure the sonata unwritten, the curative drug undiscovered, the absence of political insight? They are the difference between what we are and what we could be as a society" (Gallagher, 1975, p. 9).

Conscious attention to multiple intelligences will assist in averting such "societal tragedies," as we strive to develop more of the talents of more of our students. Broadening our criteria for giftedness involves using assessments in addition to paper and pencil tests: products, observations, portfolios, etc. Lazear (1994) provides intelligence profiles for evaluating the development of capacities in each intelligence. Maker, Nielson, and Rogers (1994) developed multiple intelligence problem solving profiles. We can use a variety of assessments to encourage students to show in their own way what they can do, rather than using narrow instruments to demonstrate what they cannot.

One major problem in broadening our identification criteria to include multiple intelligences is one of resources. Many gifted programs already operate on a shoestring budget with severely overworked personnel. The following points may help in convincing the administration to allocate more resources:

1) There exist several extremely successful programs which utilize multiple intelligences: the Key School in Indianapolis , the DISCOVER network based in Arizona, and the programs for the gifted in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) School District (Maker, Nielson, & Rogers, 1994).

2) The conscious use of multiple intelligences will assist in recognizing and nurturing the talents of a larger number of students who are gifted in varied ways, thus mitigating charges of elitism.

3) Using multiple intelligences as a basis for identification has been found to be effective in identifying gifted children of diverse cultures (Maker, Nielson & Rogers, 1994).

Prior to utilizing multiple intelligences to develop and implement gifted curricula, it is helpful to give students insight into the theory and their own relationship to it.

Introducing Students to Multiple Intelligences

Students, particularly gifted students, often find the theory of multiple intelligences fascinating. In addition to a brief overview of the intelligences and the elements included in each, here are some additional ways to introduce the intelligences to the students:

Checklists exist for identifying a child's preferred or strong intelligence(s). These may be used by students themselves or by adults who know students well (Armstrong, 1994).

Interest centers may be created for student exploration. One center per intelligence would be available for students to visit as they wished. The Linguistic center might include books, writing materials, word processors, dictionaries, thesauruses, crossword puzzles, word games, etc. The Spatial center might include art supplies, reproductions of art works, maps, sculpting materials, blueprints, Pictionary, etc. Lazear (1991) listed additional examples of what might be included in each center. Teachers might observe the students' preferred center(s) to gain insights into strong and weak intelligence areas.

Games might be played in which students identify or create activities for the various intelligences. A Double Dare type game exists in which groups of students create MI activities to challenge each other.

After learning about the intelligences, students are capable of suggesting their own multiple intelligence activities to fulfill assignments. However, students should not always be able to remain with the intelligence in which they excel--they should continually be encouraged to broaden themselves and try new ways of thinking.

Multiple Intelligences in Curricula for Gifted Programs

The dimensions of environment, content, process, pace, and product (Maker, 1982) have long been used to guide our thinking in differentiating curricula for gifted students. Each in turn will be discussed with respect to multiple intelligences.

Environment provides the context for all other dimensions. Environment relates to the entire paradigm shift from a unitary conception of intelligence to the idea of multiple intelligences. Only in an environment which values and nurtures all intelligences to the same extent will the varied talents of all children be fully developed.

Differentiating content traditionally has been interpreted as incorporating increased abstractness, complexity, and variety into curriculum for gifted learners. A fourth facet may now be added: broadening the content to provide experiences with all intelligences related to the topic. As a unit is begun, the students and/or teacher may use a concept mapping activity as a brainstorming tool. The topic or theme of the unit would be placed in the center, with each of the intelligences branching from it. For example, a unit on the solar system may have topics such as "etymology of planet names, mythology, and research" listed under Linguistic Intelligence, and "biomes of each planet, ecology, and terraforming" under Naturalist Intelligence. The ideas generated become topics for class discussion, assignments, learning station activities, or indepen-dent study projects.

A second way in which multiple intelligences may enhance content is by integrating all of the intelligences into one comprehensive project. One example is staging a play or musical production. Students high in linguistic intelligence might be in charge of writing or adapting the script, while the spatially talented would create set design, backdrops, and scenery. Logical/mathematical intelligence would be important in sequencing the scenes, budgeting, creating timelines for completion of various tasks, advertising and ticket sales, and so on for the other intelligences. Other options for integrating the strengths of all intelligences might include video productions, three dimensional sound murals, newspapers, and museums. All of the above emphasize the interrelatedness and interdependence of the intelligences, as well as the importance of all of them in everyday life.

Differentiating process would integrate multiple intelligences with higher order thinking skills. One way of generating ideas for such integration is by using a grid. Along the top might be whatever thinking skills are being developed; the Bloom taxonomy is one viable model. Along the side are the multiple intelligences. In the interior are activities for each intelligence at each level of thinking. For instance, an analysis activity for logical/mathematical intelligence would be to decide if compass directions would be the same on Jupiter, while a synthesis activity for bodily/kinesthetic intelligence would be to design a spacesuit for a mission to Venus.

These activities then may take several directions. Those deemed critical to the understanding of the unit for all students become class activities or assignments. Those which are enrichment activities for the unit might be placed in learning stations. Finally, activities which are more involved might form the basis for independent study projects for interested students.

Independent study projects not only assist in differentiating process, but pace as well, since by nature independent studies are conducted at the student's own pace. A menu of independent study options might be created. For instance, to accompany an elementary solar system unit, options might include the following:

Linguistic--On one of NASA's space probes was a plaque intended to communicate with other intelligent life forms. Find out what the plaque said and in what "languages." Create another message and translate it into several "languages."

Musical--Investigate sound in space. Relate actual space sounds to musical compositions pertaining to the planets. Create your own planetary composition, and describe how it incorporates your knowledge of the solar system.

Bodily/kinesthetic--Choose a planet or moon. Pretend that the Olympic games are going to be held there. Tell how at least ten events would be affected. Then create at least five new events which would take advantage of the new environment.

Inter-and intrapersonal--Research the qualifications of NASA mission commanders. Tell how your talents match the requirements of mission commander to colonize Mars. Then pick an executive team of classmates for jobs which will be important to the mission. Defend your choices.

Many of the above projects differentiate process and product as well as pace. Differentiating product allows students to express their learning in creative and personal ways. A number of lists of differentiated products exists in the literature (e.g., Maker & Nielson, 1996). The products on such lists might be categorized by the primary intelligence involved in creating them. For example, skits, poems, reports, and crossword puzzles would represent linguistic intelligence, while dioramas, maps, murals, quilts, diagrams, and cartoons would illustrate spatial intelligence. To encourage students to broaden their range of capabilities, one might require them to choose products from at least four different intelligences throughout the term.


Multiple intelligences hold much promise for infusing new excitement into gifted programs. Gifted educators are encouraged to learn more about MI theory by consulting the references below, particularly Gardner's 1983 seminal work. By expanding our notion of giftedness to include more intelligences, we will be able to identify and nurture the talents of more of our children. Students introduced to this theory gain much self-awareness and often increased self-esteem. Using multiple intelligences to guide curriculum differentiation will assist in elevating our programs to a new level of sophistication. Celebrating excellence is a tenet of our field--we now have more areas of excellence to celebrate.


Armstrong, T. (1994). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Gallagher, J. J. (1975). Teaching the gifted child (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. New York: Basic Books.

Gardner, H. (1993). Creating minds. New York: Basic Books.

Lazear, D. (1991). Seven ways of knowing: Teaching for multiple intelligences (2nd ed.). Palatine, IL: IRI/Skylight Publishing.

Lazear, D. (1994). Multiple intelligence approaches to assessment: Solving the assessment conundrum. Tucson: Zephyr Press.

Maker, C. J. (1982). Curriculum development for the gifted. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Maker, C. J. & Nielson, A. B. (1996). Curriculum development and teaching strategies for gifted learners (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Maker, C. J., Nielson, A. B. & Rogers, J. A. (1994). Giftedness, diversity, and problem solving: Multiple intelligences and diversity in educational settings. Teaching Exceptional Children, 27(1), 4-19.





Situated on 44 square miles of west coast rainforest bounded by Burrard Inlet on the north, the neighboring municipality of Burnaby on the east, the north arm of the Fraser River on the south, and the University of British Columbia endowment lands on the west is Vancouver (where the citizens don't tan, but rust), Canada's third largest city. And although becoming increasingly cosmopolitan (it hosted the Three Tenors concert on New Year's Eve), it is undoubtedly best known first to sports enthusiasts as home to the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL, the Vancouver Grizzlies of the NEA, and the Greater Vancouver Open event of the PGA tour.

Professional athletics and meteorology aside, two recent events--the success of Expo '86 which advertised Vancouver to the world and immigration resulting from uncertainty about the political future of Hong Kong-- have greatly altered the size and composition of the city's population in the last ten years. And nowhere are the demographic changes more noticeable than throughout its public school system. Today the student population has rebounded to almost equal the all-time high figures set by the baby boom of the late 1960's. Some 24,325 students are now educated in 18 secondary schools (grades 8-12) while 32,123 elementary students attend 73 elementary schools (grades K-7) and 18 primary annexes (grades K-3). Of this population, 28,415 students representing 106 different home languages are taught in designated ESL programs.

Addressing the educational needs of this growing and diverse student body is no small challenge. In July of 1994, the Vancouver School Board, concerned that comprehensive programming for gifted students was unavailable, adopted a proposal for Elementary Gifted/Enrichment Education based on criteria that must: (1) provide equity of access for students in all areas of the city; and (2) respond to the diversity of needs of this student population. This proposal "focused on the generic needs of gifted and highly able students and offered services and programs to complement and go beyond the learning opportunities available in the classroom and the school." To maximize limited resources, it described three types of programs and services that were Area Challenge Centres (for administrative purposes, Vancouver is divided into four areas--Marineview, Jericho, Fraserview, and Sunrise), City-Wide Initiatives, and Multi-Age Cluster Classes.

The 1995-96 school year saw the first period of implementation of these new programs and services. A summative overview of student participation reveals that: ● 980 of the 1,560 students referred (62.8%) were accepted into one of the eight Area Challenge Centres/● 623 of the 1,012 students referred (61.6%) were accepted into one of the seven City-Wide Initiatives/ ● 339 of the 339 students referred (100%) were accepted into the Gifted Learner Summer Program / ● 34 students were served by the two Multi-Age Cluster Classes. In total, some 1,976 students (67.3% of all referrals) were served by one of the seventeen available programs and services.

Access to all programs begins with the selection of school-based gifted education contact persons to coordinate the referral process for their colleagues. Their role is to ensure teachers are aware of the programs available and to invite them to nominate candidates from their class based on academic and learning strengths, demonstration of passionate interests, creative and analytical thinking ability, commitment to preferred tasks for long periods of time, emotional intensity and sensitivity, and above grade level abilities in disciplines or skills.

All teacher referrals are submitted to a school-based referral committee for approval and prioritization, then sent for screening by a Student Services Committee at the district level. This screening is based on achieving the best match between student educational needs and program objectives, school priority, and equity in terms of gender, geography, and size of school.

Meanwhile, the Challenge Centre Teacher is available as back-up to: ● provide information about programs, referral process, and due dates/ ● assist with review of students who have previously participated/ ● assist with the match between student needs and programs/ ● provide information about enrichment planning (resources, strategies) for the classroom teacher/ ● provide in-service training for staffs and/or groups of teachers/ ● support the school-based contact person/ ● provide responses to requests and queries from parents.

The Challenge Centres offer programs the most immediate to the student's home school. Intended "to engage groups of similarly able students in intense academic and intellectual challenges," eight host schools (two per area) offer three modules per year. Each module is organized by grade levels: Grade 7 (fall term); Grades 5/6 (winter term); and Grades 3/5 (spring term). Four thematically different half-day sessions per week are offered for nine weeks for each of the three modules.

Neil McAllister's Challenge Centre at Dr. R.E. McKechnie School in the Marineview area is an outstanding example of one such program. His Tuesday morning, Sciencing Plus, attends to the social, emotional and intellectual needs of students exhibiting high levels of interest and ability in science. Participants examine the relationship of science to society; conduct scientific investigations; explore the ideas of chance, causation and significance; and discuss how moral considerations may apply to scientific inquiry and applications. As a change of pace, his afternoon session, Writing From The Heart, is specific to the social and emotional needs of students exhibiting a talent for writing. It emphasizes creative expression in crafting, and sharing material of personal and social relevance--using journaling and imaging exercises as the bases for skill development.

Neil's Wednesday morning Mathemaction attends to the social, emotional and intellectual needs of mathematically talented students. This program has three major components: ● Hands-on activities involving mathematical constructions/ ● Examination of the ideas and contributions of some historically important mathematicians/ ● Exploration of some techniques and procedures applicable to the Canadian Math League competition.

His afternoon program, Problem Problems, addresses the emotional, social and cognitive needs of students exhibiting an interest/aptitude in technical-mechanical endeavours. It provides practical experience in a number of fundamental thinking skills and involves students in the principles of physics and mechanics as they undertake a number of construction challenges.

Although Neil has just completed his first term at the time of this writing, his insights into the benefits of the total program are significant. He says, "the opportunity of eight half-day sessions with other highly able students can provide some individuals with a sense that they are not alone, that others can appreciate their ideas and thinking, as well as find them interesting and worthy of friendship." Furthermore, "such programs give many students experience with a learning environment that is a fit with their interests and ability--an environment that treats them not as problems but as valued learners." But benefits are not reserved solely for students. For Neil is further convinced that "the process of identification and referral can help promote an awareness of these learners in both the parent and teacher community" and that "the opportunity for highly able students to meet for discussion and sharing of issues and concerns allows for the development of a sense of community. . . .”

As well as teaching in the Challenge Centre program at Jules Quesnel school located in the Jericho district, Teresa Milden also coordinates the district-wide Mentorship program. Structured to provide intermediate grade students who "demonstrate a passion" with adults willing to share their expertise in particular areas of interest, this program to date has matched thirty mentors with some sixty students. Areas of shared interest have included the more "traditional" Chemistry, Biology, Statistics, Computer Programming, Mechanics, and Electronics; as well as the likes of Horse Care, Stock Brokerage, Spacecraft Design, and a study of the provincial Ferry System.

Student referrals are followed up by interviews with the student and teacher sponsor. Accepted candidates are notified when mentors are located, and a training session is then organized for both student(s) and mentor. Although requested to contribute ten hours to the program during which a product reflecting the mentorship process is to be created for presentation at a year-end celebration, most mentorships normally last longer. Perhaps this is due in part to the enjoyment experienced by the mentors themselves. Many said that sharing an interest was "just as great for them as for the kids,” or that it "made them feel young again." And the students? Many reported that the mentorship experience "helped give them focus for future careers" and that working with an expert in the field gave the feeling "they contributed to the ownership of ideas.”

To think Vancouver's Gifted/Enrichment Education Program is a paragon and devoid of problems is, of course, unfounded. While it is creditable that two-thirds of all referrals are served by one of the district's programs or services, fully one-third of those students identified as gifted remain excluded. At this time the only option available for those identified at the school level but rejected by the district screening process is to wait until next year. Transportation also poses difficulties for many parents upon whom the onus rests to take their child to the location of the program. Vancouver, like many large urban districts, is not without its share of single-parent homes. And, unfortunately, conflicts between work and school schedules do preclude deserving students.

These difficulties notwithstanding, Vancouver is to be commended for making a serious and vibrant commitment to its gifted students. A review of all programs and services from the perception of principals, teachers, and parents is currently underway with a report to the Vancouver School Board expected for early spring. If the review panel requires justification to recommend continuing or even expanding the programs it need look little further than to the parents of participating students. As Neil McAllister reports, "Parents have been effusive in their praise of the programs. I have heard, on more than one occasion, of a parent attributing a turn-around in their child's attitude and engagement to their participation in a challenge program--and that the change persisted after the cessation of the program." When parents are doing your advertising for you, you know you have a winner!





William James, an illustrious professor of psychology at Harvard University in the late 1800s and early 1900s, was a notable antecedent of Howard Gardner in both their concerns and style. Like Gardner, James was concerned with understanding human consciousness in a pluralistic framework of different intelligences. He displayed this pluralism throughout his own professional career. First, he was a M.D. and instructor in anatomy and physiology. After continuous study in Europe, he wrote the first major book in United States on the emerging field of human perception and action, The Principles of Psychology (1890). Later, his intellectual pursuits developed to the degree that he became the most important philosopher in the United States during his latter years [see The Will to Believe (1897) and Pragmatism: A New Name for Old Ways of Thinking (1907)]. Moreover, he had the reputation of being one of the most cherished college teachers of his era.

The majority of his written works originated from lectures he had delivered to his students. For example, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) had its basis as the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh. In this book, James described how the main goal of religious experience was the pragmatic need for psychic survival and inspiration for human endeavor. Howard Gardner is currently investigating and describing spiritual experience as a form of human intelligence. In addition, like James, Gardner has a strong appreciation of the artistic aspects of the human personality.

James’s philosophy of pragmatism was rooted in the concept, that in order for individuals to be ethical, they must practice a personal philosophy deriving meaning from individual experience. He wanted individuals to express personal needs rather than those imposed by the state. Gardner’s individualism is expressed by his emphasis on the worth of each individual as shown by their unique types of intelligence.

James was an academic who engaged in public discourse and was concerned with the education of all Americans. At a time when women and Blacks were not enrolled at Harvard University in significant numbers, he had important students from these two groups -- the African-American writer and scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, and the feminist writer, Gertrude Stein. In a similar manner, Gardner writes in a style that is lucid and comprehensible to laymen as well as his fellow academics, and he perceives teaching as an important ingredient in the creation of an authentic American democracy. Consequently, he is currently participating in the structural redesign of the public school curriculum to facilitate higher levels of achievement for all students.

This continuum of William James and Howard Gardner is one that includes academic, aesthetic and ethical endeavors. It is rooted in understanding that human knowledge and actions are founded in life’s problems rather than abstract theory.