Have you ever been puzzled when a teacher mentioned your child's musical, kinesthetic, or visual intelligence? Your parents certainly never heard teachers use terms like this! Descriptions of various intelligences grew from a theory Harvard psychologist Howard Gardener came up with in the 1980s. Since his theory has had a huge influence on the teaching in many K12 grades schools, let's learn a bit about it.
Gardner currently describes eight ways of learning or intelligences. (He is considering adding spiritual, existential, and moral intelligences to this list.)
Traditionally, schools focused almost exclusively on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. These days, though, many educators acknowledge these other kinds of intelligence. They design their teaching to help students who are intelligent in these areas succeed, both in and out of school.
How do teachers accommodate multiple intelligences in the classroom? Here are a couple of examples. Visual learners benefit from information presented through or accompanied by graphs, charts, diagrams, and so on. Similarly, visual learners shine when they present research topics through photographs, PowerPoint presentations, videos, posters, and other visual means.
Cooperative learning projects are perfect for interpersonal learners. Such students generally know how to lead but are so sensitive to group dynamics they encourage everyone to participate. In a group, everyone benefits from children with interpersonal intelligence.
At your next parent-teacher conference, why not discuss multiple intelligence theory with your child's teacher. Find out how this theory has influenced his or her teaching.
If you're interested in getting more information, two of Howard Gardner's classic books on multiple intelligences are Frames of Mind: Theory of Multiple Intelligence and Multiple Intelligences: Theory in Practice.
Be sure to check Gardner's Web site: www.howardgardner.com. It's packed with theoretical and practical information on multiple intelligences.
Sara jo Schwartz is an education writer and editor based in Grand Haven, Michigan.
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