As described by Banks (2007), multicultural education from an educator's perspective is the insightful practice of preparing educational content, tools, and strategies that are sensitive to the students' cultural diverse cultural background. The premise of multicultural education is that the typical classroom of the present in large, cultural melting pots such as the United States are composed of people with different primary languages, traditions, religions, and other cultural aspects, and that all of these aspects impact how they respond to educational or educational assessment stimuli. Thus, such stimuli must be sensitive to cultural differences in order for them to be fair to all students. Parallel to this way of reasoning is the responsibility that is imposed by the theory of multiple intelligences upon educators. This theory that had been formulated by Gardner (2006) stated that different people learned best in different ways, and that the human learning mechanism is made of different components that functioned and developed independently from one another. These components are the different intelligences which include verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, visual-spatial, musical, and naturalistic intelligence. Gardner (2006) proposed that through a collaboration of both nature and nurture, every person grows up with some of the intelligences being more developed than others, and this makes people learn better through means that capitalize on their dominant intelligences. Thus, it is implied through Gardner's work that the educator has the responsibility of suiting pedagogical materials and strategies to the dominant intelligences of his or her students. It is further implied that in a diverse classroom, this responsibility requires the inclusion of learning elements that makes use of each of the intelligences in order to be able to cover all students, who are assumed to have different dominant intelligences. It is from these two theories that this paper draws its purpose. That is, to determine through a critical review of relate literature the existence and extent of a relationship between culture and multiple intelligences. In the succeeding sections, this paper analyzes the question under investigation, and then presents evidence based on reviewed literatures that answer the question given. This paper concludes with the application of research findings to the researcher's profession and professional goals, including a sharing of new perspectives that were gained by the researcher throughout this entire project.
The primary question under investigation is does a relationship exist between a person's culture and his or her dominant intelligences. From this question, there are several considerations that emerge related to finding appropriate research outcomes. First, is there any evidence that particular cultural groups excel in general in certain intelligences over other intelleigences? This question is somewhat stereotypical and indeed, there are various stereotypes that the researcher is aware of which is related to this consideration. A sample stereotype is that Asians, particularly Chinese people, are better at math than other people in the world. This cultural stereotype illustrates how one culture (the Chinese culture) can have a stronger inclination towards a particular intelligence (logical-mathematical). Second, do these cultural groups who excel in particular intelligences excel in them significantly over other cultural groups? That is, stating that the Chinese are better at math means that there should be evidence comparing the performance of Chinese people in mathematics against the performance of members of other cultures on the same subject. Third, are there any evidences of particular cultures showing significant weakness in certain intelligences? This is once again a stereotypical question, with examples that are commonly known. For example, the Japanese are considered to be very shy and timid, and are weak at expressing themselves to others. Does this mean that being culturally indoctrinated Japanese negatively affects a person's interpersonal and verbal-linguistic intelligences? The next consideration is are these identified weaknesses of particular cultures in particular intelligences significantly greater than those experienced in general by other cultural groups? For example, is there empirical proof that shows that members of the Japanese culture are less expressive than members of other cultures in the world? Finally, the last consideration is whether or not the use of multiple intelligences based strategies has been shown to benefit culturally diverse learning groups. While this last consideration is not as direct as the first ones, its answer would nevertheless add to the evidence of the existence of a relationship between multiple intelligences and culture.
Strasser, J., and Seplocha (2005) presents some general input regarding the relationship between multicultural education and multiple intelligences. Following the multicultural education premise that the contemporary classroom in the American context is culturally diverse, Strasser, J., and Seplocha (2005) further emphasize that students who have different cultural backgrounds are likely to also have different academic strengths. The study cites how Indian-American students excel in science related subjects while Chinese-American students excel in mathematics, but does not actually provide the empirical evidences to back these statements, only citing other pieces of literature that supposedly contained the evidences. Nevertheless, Strasser, J., and Seplocha (2005) link these findings to Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, and they stress upon the need to explore Gardner's theory as a critical element in understanding multicultural education. More specific outcomes regarding the relationship between multicultural education and multiple intelligences are found in the study conducted by Wu & Alrabah (2009). The authors Wu & Alrabah were each based in Taiwan and Kuwait respectively, which meant that each had access to a population with a particular culture. Wu & Alrabah (2009) relied on the premise that Taiwanese and Kuwaiti cultures were dominant in their respective countries. That is that culture in the geographical areas of Taiwan and in Kuwait is not very diverse. Most people in Taiwan have a Taiwanese or at least Asian culture and most people in Kuwait have a Kuwaiti or at least Middle Eastern culture. This creates the perfect opportunity for determining whether or not there are key differences in the dominant intelligences of people from two different cultural backgrounds. The empirical results found in Wu & Alrabah (2009) suggest that there are both key similarities and differences in the intelligence profiles of Taiwanese and Kuwaiti people. The Taiwanese students were found to have high affinities with logical-mathematical and intrapersonal intelligences and moderate affinities with verbal-linguistic, visual-spatial, musical, and naturalistic intelligences (Wu & Alrabah, 2009). The intelligence to which the Taiwanese had the lowest affinity towards was found to be the interpersonal intelligence (Wu & Alrabah, 2009). This shows that there is a general pattern of intelligences that can be observed from members of the Taiwanese culture. On the other hand, the Kuwaiti students showed the highest affinities towards verbal-linguistic and intrapersonal intelligences (Wu & Alrabah, 2009). They showed moderate affinities towards all other intelligences except for verbal-linguistic to which they exhibit the lowest affinity (Wu & Alrabah, 2009). Thus, the Kuwait students also have their own pattern of dominant and non-dominant intelligences. It was further shown that the Taiwanese had a significantly greater affinity towards the logic-mathematical intelligence than the Kuwaiti students; this is despite the fact that the Kuwaiti students already exhibited a moderate level of affinity in the said intelligence (Wu & Alrabah, 2009), thereby implying that affinity towards the logic-mathematical intelligence is something that can at least be partially claimed as a Taiwanese cultural trait. However, no other significant differences among corresponding levels of affinities between members from the two cultures were found. Thus, the evidence from Wu & Alrabah (2009) seems by itself insufficient to successfully establish the claim that culture is related to a group's multiple intelligence profile. In order to strengthen the partial evidence found in Wu & Alrabah (2009), additional research was conducted which yielded a significant piece of evidence. This comes from Gladwell (2008) which explained why the Chinese usually have dominant logical-mathematical intelligence. According to Gladwell (2008), the pronunciation of numbers in the Chinese language is composed of only one syllable per number, and it is common for Chinese children to easily memorize numbers and perform basic arithmetic operations before they even learn how to write numbers formally. This means the culturally, the Chinese are inclined towards the logical-mathematical intelligence because of their language and common childhood practices. This paper also considers the output of an extensive literature review conducted by Wang & Miao (2007). As with the work of Strasser, J., and Seplocha (2005), Wang & Miao (2007) writings echo many of the earlier findings of research linking multiple intelligences to culture. Wang & Miao (2007) synthesized that throughout years of research, the general consensus formulated by education and educational psychology researchers is that biological, gender, familial, racial, and social factors are significant in determining tertiary level student's preferred learning methods. This synthesis is significant since almost all of the factors mentioned are somehow related to culture. Consider the factor of gender. Gender differences are treated differently across different cultures. For less liberal cultures such as those in some parts of Asia and Africa, women are a marginalized sector with members that are constantly indoctrinated to a life of housework and male dominance. For more liberal cultures, women and men share equal footing, and it is regarded that women can do whatever men can in the realms of education and profession. Thus, women from more liberal cultures will tend to develop different dominant intelligences from women who are members of more conservative cultures. However, actual quantifiable evidence of these conjectures is not present in the text of Wang & Miao (2007) and is not included in their study's scope. They were only drawn implicitly from the synthesis that was provided in the study of previous researches that identified gender as a significant factor in determining dominant intelligences. Still, the same line of reasoning used to link gender to culture can be done for social, familial, and racial factors, since all of those factors are in some way culturally based. Different races have different cultural heritages, and a family usually practices a common culture. Furthermore, research conducted by Nishimoto (2005), who focused on personality development of Japanese students found that Japanese culture does promote timidity and interpersonal weakness among female students. This provides actual evidence related to the previous conjecture about gender that culture does affect the particular intelligences which may become dominant or non-dominant among different people.
As stated in the previous section, another way of proving the existence of a relationship between multicultural education and multiple intelligences is by examining the outcomes of the use of multiple intelligences tools on culturally diverse classrooms. Towards this end, Savitz &
Savitz (2007) conducted a study in which they used pedagogical theories related to multiple intelligences to create educational activities for culturally diverse freshman students in a mathematics class. The outcome of the experiment revealed that the activities were successful in reducing participant stress and making the culturally diverse class a more suitable atmosphere for learning (Savitz & Savitz, 2007). Prior to the use of the said activities, the students felt culturally alienated in the classroom and this caused them significant stress. By making use of the multiple intelligence theory, it seems that Savitz & Savitz (2007) were also able to address the cultural diversity of the class. Similar evidence was found in the work of Saricaoglu & Arikan (2009), which revealed that students who are dominant in particular intelligences did better in EFL lessons than others. However, Saricaoglu & Arikan (2009) admitted that one confounding variable in the study was culture, since the study also revealed in hindsight that the people who possessed the dominant intelligences that made them superior to others in EFL lessons were students with an Asian lineage. Other studies where it was found that the use of multiple intelligence developed teaching methods and strategies were conducted by Nash (2009), Parker (2007), and Haley (2007). All of these studies point out that when multiple intelligence theory is applied to culturally diverse samples of students, the results included strengthened learning outcomes.
Conclusion and Applications
Based on the literatures that were critically reviewed and synthesized in this study, there is good reason to believe that the theory of multiple intelligences is related to the theory of multicultural education. There is sufficient proof that suggests that people of a particular culture have commonly developed dominant intelligences, which means that these people learn in similar ways. Given these inferences, the researcher is enlightened with the need to apply multiple intelligence developed teaching theories and strategies to the researcher's culturally diverse clientele. As an academic advisor, the researcher encounters culturally diverse individuals who may be having a wide array of academic difficulties. With a newly established perspective on the connection between multiple intelligences and culture, the researcher can choose appropriate advice and courses of action for each individual, making the researcher potentially more effective in the researcher's chosen field of specialization. Furthermore, the researcher was also made aware of the current need to conduct further quantitative research into the relationship between multiple intelligence and multicultural education. While there it was sufficiently established that there is reason to believe that one is related to the other, the researcher found no actual study that was primarily interested in the relationship between the two and most output found were only unintended corollaries to the pursuit of the studies' actual research questions. Thus, the researcher intends to further explore the possibility of conducting actual experimental research in the uncovered phenomenon for the benefit of the academic community and its multicultural student population.