Nature, Language, & Intellignece Theories

Question 1: Discuss the importance of remaining connected with nature. Give examples of how natural elements can be introduced into an interior environment to support this biological and psychological need and discuss what advantages as well as problems might be introduced in doing so. How might the problems be addressed and still provide this connection with nature?


Question 2: Language Development: Was B.F. Skinner right, or was Linguist Noam Chomsky’s description of children’s language acquisition more accurate? What evidence is there that one or the other theorist is more likely correct? Do you have any examples of children’s utterances that would help to illustrate your position? Or just funny ones that we might enjoy hearing?


Question 3: Culturally Defined Intelligence: Do you think that high scores on intelligence tests indicate that one is intrinsically “smarter” than someone who scored lower? Or do you believe that the higher scorer simply has a better capability of doing things the way that their culture demands? Why do you think that? Do you think those two issues are linked together, or that intelligence and culturally specific intelligent behavior are separate concepts? Explain your answers using concepts from the text.


Question 4: Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences: What kind of implications do you think Gardener’s theory has had for the educational system? What should teachers do differently for children if it’s true that everyone has one or more of these multiple intelligences? How does this theory help to explain your personal experiences with intelligence? Do you think Gardener has described different intelligences, or different talents? See Gardener information below:

Overview of Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences

Gardner continues in the tradition of Thurstone’s proposal that there is no g (general intelligence) but rather multiple, distinct intelligences. Gardener proposes seven intelligences (although he does not limit the possible number)
1. Linguistic intelligence
2. Musical intelligence
3. Logical- mathematical intelligence
4. Spatial intelligence
5. Bodily-Kinaesthetic intelligence
6. Interpersonal intelligence
7. Interpersonal intelligence
Additional ‘candidate’ intelligences are:

? Naturalistic intelligence (ability to discern patterns in nature – e.g. Darwin)
? Spiritual Intelligence – recognition of the spiritual
? Existential intelligence – concern with ‘ultimate issues’

Gardener’s approach to intelligence

Howard Gardner (1983, 1993, 1999) believes that we have multiple intelligences, rather than a general intelligence that underlies performance in all tasks (g).

In arguing that there are distinct and separate components to intelligence Gardener offers nothing particularly new. However, what is new about Gardner’s work is that he does not attempt to support his approach purely through statistical reanalysis of data (e.g. as Thurstone did), but instead he has looked at various “signs” to inform his theory of what constitutes intelligence.
Gardener’s multiple intelligence theory is supported by the current anti-g Zeitgeist. He also suggests that different cultures highlight certain intelligences & minimize others.

Gardener’s Five Signs of an Intelligence

Gardener has examined a variety of sources in order to formulate his theory of intelligence: intelligence tests, cognition experiments, neuropsychological research, child prodigies and idiot savantes.

As a result, Gardener has proposed five “signs” or criteria that he uses to identify whether an intelligence qualifies as being distinct and autonomous from other intelligences:

1. Neuropsychological evidence: isolation by brain damage:

One criterion was whether an intelligence could be isolated neuropsychologically. Gardner argues that people have multiple intelligences because they have multiple neural modules. Each module, he believes, has its own way of operating and its own memory systems. Brain damage may sometimes impair one intellectual skill whilst other skills remain at least partially intact after brain damage. For example, brain-injured musicians may have impaired speech, yet retain the ability to play music (aphasia without amusia (Hodges, 1996; Sergent, 1993).

2. The existence of individuals with exceptional talent:

Selective competence (such as idiot savants, prodigies), like selective deficits, suggests autonomy of that particular competence. In other words, the presence of extraordinary intelligence in one area suggests a distinct form of intelligence. If Mozart could write music before he could even read, then the neural systems involved in musical intelligence must be separate from those involved in language processing.

3. A distinct developmental history:

Another source of evidence for an intelligence is a characteristic developmental trajectory leading from basic and universal manifestations to one or more expert end-states. For example, spoken language develops quickly and to great competence in normal people. In contrast, while all normal individuals can count small quantities, few progress to an understanding of higher mathematics even with formal schooling. (Torff & Gardner, 1999).

4. Experimental evidence:

E.g. individuals performing two different tasks at once indicate that some intelligences (or is it just abilities) operate autonomously.

5. Psychometric support:

E.g. factor analysis shows different factors in intelligence. FA generally supports the existence of two big group factors: verbal and spatial (Torff & Gardner, 1999).

Gardener’s Seven Intelligences

Gardener concludes that the cumulative evidence points to seven (or possibly eight) distinct intelligences. The first three are somewhat similar to previous components of intelligence identified by other approaches; whereas the second four/five are more novel. He believes these develop differently in different people due to both heredity and training. He believes that all need to be measured to provide a truly global assessment of intelligence.

1. Linguistic Intelligence: involved in reading, writing, listening and talking
2. Logical-Mathematic Intelligence: involved in solving logical puzzles, deriving proofs, performing calculations
3. Spatial Intelligence: involved in moving from one location to another or determining one’s orientation in space
4. Musical Intelligence: involved in playing, composing, singing and conducting. Furthermore, Gardner believes that auto mechanics and cardiologists may have this kind of intelligence in abundance as they make diagnoses on the careful listening to patterns of sounds.
5. Bodily-Kinaesthetic Intelligence: involved in using one’s body (or parts of it) to perform skilful and purposeful movements (dancers, athletes and surgeons)
6. Intrapersonal Intelligence: involved in understanding oneself and having insight into one’s own thoughts, actions and emotions (self-understanding).
7. Interpersonal functioning: involved in understanding of others and one’s relations to others. Being high in social skills (psychologists, teachers and politicians are supposed to be high in this type of intelligence).
8. The eighth intelligence was proposed by Gardner in 1999 and he calls it Naturalistic Intelligence. This intelligence involves the ability to understand and work effectively in the natural world. This is exemplified by biologists and zoologists.


Please help me get started on these questions. Any help will be much approciated. Thank you.

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