Book Summary: Frames of Mind by Howard Gardner

Frames of Mind by Howard Gardner Book Cover

Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences is a book written by Howard Gardner, published in 1983. The book introduces the theory of multiple intelligences, which posits that there are several distinct types of intelligence, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Gardner argues that traditional intelligence tests only measure one type of intelligence – logical-mathematical ability – and that this limited view of intelligence can lead to misdiagnosis of learning disabilities and other problems.

Chapter 1: The Nature of Intelligence

In the first chapter, Gardner defines intelligence as “the ability to create an effective product or to solve a problem that is valued within one or more cultural settings.” He argues that traditional views of intelligence, such as the idea that there is a single general intelligence that can be measured by IQ tests, are too limited. Instead, he proposes that there are several distinct types of intelligence, including:

  • Logical-mathematical intelligence: the ability to reason, to use logic and mathematics to solve problems, and to understand abstract concepts
  • Linguistic intelligence: the ability to use language to express oneself, to understand complex language, and to use language to solve problems
  • Spatial intelligence: the ability to visualize and manipulate objects in three dimensions, to create mental images, and to use spatial reasoning
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: the ability to control one’s body movements and to coordinate movement and action
  • Musical intelligence: the ability to perceive, understand, and create music, and to use music to express oneself
  • Interpersonal intelligence: the ability to understand and communicate with others, to work effectively in groups, and to empathize with others
  • Intrapersonal intelligence: the ability to understand oneself, to have self-awareness, and to be able to reflect on one’s own thoughts and emotions

Chapter 2: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

In the second chapter, Gardner explains how the theory of multiple intelligences can help us understand human cognitive abilities. He argues that each type of intelligence has its own strengths and weaknesses, and that people differ in the ways they use their various intelligences. For example, someone with high logical-mathematical intelligence may be good at solving math problems, but may struggle with understanding the emotions of others. Someone with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence may be a great athlete, but may struggle with reading and writing.

Chapter 3: The Evidence for Multiple Intelligences

In the third chapter, Gardner presents evidence for the existence of multiple intelligences. He draws on research from psychology, neuroscience, and other fields to show that different types of intelligence are associated with different brain regions and neural networks. He also discusses studies that have shown that children with different types of intelligence have different learning styles and preferences, and that people with different types of intelligence can excel in different fields.

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Chapter 4: The Educational Implications of Multiple Intelligences

In the fourth chapter, Gardner discusses the implications of the theory of multiple intelligences for education. He argues that traditional education systems, which focus on logical-mathematical intelligence, are not well-suited to the needs of all students. Instead, he suggests that educators should recognize and foster the strengths of each type of intelligence, and should provide students with a variety of learning experiences that engage their different intelligences.


In conclusion, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences presents a compelling argument for the existence of multiple types of intelligence, and for the importance of recognizing and fostering the strengths of each type. Gardner’s theory has had a significant impact on education and psychology, and has led to a greater focus on differentiated instruction and learning styles. Whether you are a teacher, a parent, or simply someone who is interested in human cognition, Frames of Mind is a must-read book that will change the way you think about intelligence and learning.

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