Multiple Intelligences in Your Local School
Jul 13, 2009 Learning Methodology 3003 Views
Unfortunately, more than 18 years after the above observation, all colleges and school systems have not yet helped their teachers and parents to use powerful new research on how students learn. If this is the case in your school, you can become more informed and help correct the situation to give the benefit of a much more effective learning environment.
One of the areas of research involves ways of thinking or "talents." After a student receives information with one or more learning styles (auditory, visual, or somatic for example), he or she begins to process or think about and perhaps use the information with one or more intelligences. Many schools now pay attention to different learning styles by presenting information in different ways. Unfortunately, many have not yet taken the second step of allowing students to select different ways of processing or using the information they have gained. This article focuses primarily on different intelligences or ways of processing and using information.
When many of today's parents attended school, "intelligence" tests were often used to measure what many assumed was "potential for learning." On the basis of research, we now know that there are many different kinds of intelligence or talent. We know that each of these kinds of intelligence or talent can be useful in both learning and problem solving. For example, Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University defines these nine intelligences:
1. Linguistic - - concerned with words, sounds, reading, and language. Journalists and lawyers use this intelligence.
2. Logical--Mathematical - - concerned with numbers and logic. Accountants and computer programmers use this talent. NOTE: The two talents described above are the only two measured by many old-fashioned intelligence tests.
3. Spatial or Visual - - concerned with pictures, patterns and images. Artists, designers, and photographers function with this talent. Also visualization talent is helpful in nearly every field. For example, a great baseball hitter often "sees" or imagines what he is going to do before he does it. Some successful entrepreneurs can imagine the outcome of a particular plan before they pursue it. Some of our greatest scientists, like Albert Einstein, visualized their theories before working on the mathematical details.
4. Musical - - concerned with rhythms and melodies. The right type of music can be very helpful in certain language learning.
5. Bodily--Kinesthetic - - concerned with body movements and handling objects. Mechanics, surgeons, craftspeople, athletes, and dancers function with this talent.
6. Interpersonal - - concerned with understanding and working effectively with other people. Social workers, teachers, and negotiators need this talent to be most effective.
7. Intrapersonal - - concerned with self-understanding. Theologians and self-employed business people who prefer to work alone on their goals often depend on this talent.
8. Naturalistic - - concerned with observing, classifying, and understanding the parts of the physical environment.
9 Philosophical - ethical - - concerned with sensitivity to different cultural environments and to moral and ethical issues.
Each of us has all nine intelligences, or more. However, most people have one or two dominant intelligences or talents. Also, it is possible to develop or increase an intelligence or talent area.
The implications for learning and thinking are tremendous. If a child in elementary school is immersed in only a phonics (sound-based) reading program when he or she is a visual processor, the child is apt to fall behind in reading development and might even be labeled as needing "special education" when, in reality, normal or even accelerated reading development could occur of the child was taught the way he or she learns best. Teachers in your school should be equipped to discover how a youngster learns best and should adjust teaching activities accordingly, especially if the youngster encounters difficulty in learning.
Also, the different areas of intelligences are related to each other. It is possible to increase intelligence in one area by developing it in another because many problems can be addressed or solved in more than one way. For example, one third-grade teacher found her students' scores on a math test (logical-mathematical) nearly doubled after giving them training in visual skills with a microcomputer program. Consider this finding from researchers at the University of California, Irvine - - "Early music training (for 3-year olds) prepares young brains for spatial and abstract reasoning skills crucial to engineers, scientists, and mathematicians." An enriched environment that helps a very young child develop each area of talent or intelligence is one of the best possible investments in his or her future.
Here are some basic standards with which you can evaluate and/or encourage proper use of brain research in your local school system; seek positive responses with local in-service professional development programs as necessary:
1. Does the school system provide classes or other assistance to new parents to help them enrich their child's environment for developing multiple intelligences?
2. Has the school system provided all of its teachers with training in proper use of research on multiple intelligences as well as on learning styles?
3. Does the reading program in elementary schools give special attention to each child's unique thinking processes and learning styles (avoiding the destructive practice of teaching reading one way)?
4. Do middle school and secondary school teachers clearly pay attention to individual thinking preferences; in other words, do they help students express thier learning in different ways and not always just in one way? Do they help students to know and use their individual talents with specific counseling?
5. Does the school provide learning task options that encourage the use of different talents or intelligences?
6. Does each teacher help each youngster discover and use his or her preferred talents and also strengthen any weaker or less preferred talents?
You can get a quick clue to a schools degree of attention to different talents by checking on your youngster's project homework. If every student in a class always has to do exactly the same project in the same way, different talents are not being given attention. If your youngster often (not always) reports that he or she had the opportunity to choose from alternative ways of demonstrating use of learning (for example an oral report or building a model or designing an experiment), then attention is being given to different talents or intelligences. The latter is a sign of "sharp" teaching.