In terms of diversity and educational reform, Gardner’s theories are widely accepted as offering a plausible set of solutions to ease the current achievement crisis in all areas, although most notably in “tested" areas such as mathematics and language, which an educational focus addressed later and researched by Barnard and Olivarez (2007). Contemporary thought, at least in the last decade, has granted some increasing favor to the theory of multiple intelligences as being uniquely situated to deliver more options to diverse student populations as is evidenced in Eisner’s (2004) statement that Gardner’s theory “recognizes that intelligences develop within contexts in which different modes of thinking have different currency values. To paraphrase Plato, what is honored in a culture will be promoted there; in other words, the kind of intelligence a culture prizes influences its development" (p. 32). In this recognition, many scholars have suggested that the value-based emphasis on certain types of intelligence needs to be rethought in order to best address the needs of a diverse population of students. Furthermore, it should be noted that diversity in the modern context is not racial or ethnic solely; it is a nuanced blend of distinct social, religious, economic, geographic, and other mitigating factors that delineate lines across the many cultural groups that define our concept of diversity and can also encompass issues of disability, for instance, which can pose significant challenges to educators as they seek workable teaching solutions to meet diverse cultural and ability-related needs as noted by Rettig (2005) in an assessment of how disabled students might benefit even more than other students by such a non-traditional approach to recognizing intelligence-related strengths in guiding study.

“Teaching and learning in Western higher educational institutions still privilege certain ways of knowing and focus on a narrow view of the intellect—and do not always allow for socio-cultural differences" (Barrington, 2004 p. 422) and this an issue that Gardner and other scholars address critically in their suggestions about future educational reform. Gardner (1993) makes the suggestion that schools often overlook “cultural variations in cognitive competence" (p. 10) which is an issue that is addressed by Barnard and Olivarez (2007) in their qualitative assessment of what types of intelligences educational systems value over others and how students create their own concepts of their actual intelligence (in the form of an estimated IQ score) based on these explicit and implicit values on various intelligences. For the sake of focus, this study only correlated data based on the areas of mathematical-logical intelligences and those related to language and linguistics. Interestingly, among other valuable (but unrelated in the context of this review) results, the college-aged students in this study who reported they likely had the lowest IQs and did not express general satisfaction with their own intelligence were those who did not associate themselves with intelligence in the two identified areas. The conclusions of the study then suggests that schools place more emphasis on these two types of intelligence almost exclusively and students who do not fit within this paradigm suffer from a “self-fulfilling prophesy" in terms of achievement as they feel they are unintelligent (Barnard & Olivarez, 2007). The actual IQ scores of the students who did not feel they were sufficiently intelligent did not match their perception of being unintelligent by any means in some cases, were higher IQs than those who professed to have both high intelligence in one or both of the stated areas and a high IQ in general (Bernard & Olivarez, 2007). This signals the exact type of problem Gardner seeks to address in his critique of some educational practices that do not place sufficient emphasis on the other six forms of intelligence. This study also implies that this omission in curriculum and stated and unstated intelligence-related values is doing great harm to the self-perception of students who are not aligned with such an educational value system, especially as they begin to feel they are actually not at all intelligent. While the study design is weak in some of its questions as they are far too broad and subjective, it is nonetheless a reveal counter-opinion to those who state repeatedly that there is little evidence of an empirical nature pointing to the value of multiple intelligences-based curriculum arrangements and ideologies.

Gardner further explores the “damage" done by traditional educational systems in their significant valuation of some forms of intelligence over others by presenting a non-Western case of young Japanese violin players. In his discussion of specific intelligences, Gardner (1993) takes what he terms as a “cultural perspective" and suggests that intelligence and areas of aptitude are found in all cultures, historical and present, and represent the truth there is inherent diversity in people who comprise these cultures although due to such existing cultural influences, some aptitudes are valued more highly than others, which creates educational paradigms that then stress these determined areas of “specialization." For instance, in cultures that value technological and scientific progress in a broader cultural sense one can expect to see a resulting focus on these elements within the culture’s educational system with standards aligned to meet goals of proficiency in these areas. He uses multiple case studies and examples to highlight this issue from across cultures. For instance, Gardner (1993) uses an effective example to illustrate a difference in learning processes by using the violin players of the Suzuki school who are taught from an early age to “become" a prodigy rather than to naturally be inclined to this distinction and to develop as such. In his description of the careful coaching that begins in early childhood and through the carefully constructed manner in which children are meant to understand music as replication versus creation, many aspects of educational weaknesses are exposed. In the case of the Suzuki children, he states, “problematically, children receive the impression that the important thing in music is to replicate a sound as it has been heard and not to attempt to change it any way; no wonder that few, if any, Suzuki-trained children display any inclination toward composing" (p. 378). This is what Gardner (1993) terms as a “mimetic form of learning" (p. 378) and that is not simply an unsettling educational issue for distant Japanese schoolchildren, but that is also readily apparent in our own educational systems. This particular case study or example could easily be expanded in future research to include a discussion of the same population of young violin players and their self-perceptions about their level of intelligence and eventually, whether or not these perceptions were fully realized as self-fulfilling prophesies.