TEFL The use of muliple intelligences in education

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed by a professor of education at Harvard University, by the name of Dr. Howard Gardner. Originally Dr. Gardner developed his theory as a contribution to psychology. However, the educational benefits of this theory were soon realized.

The theory suggests that while our society and intelligence tests place a premium on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence, there are several other areas of intelligence that go largely untested and unappreciated. While Gardners theory includes linguistic, or word smart, and logical-mathematical, or number and reasoning intelligence, he also includes several others. Spatial intelligence, meaning picture and drawing ability, bodily- kinesthetic intelligence, meaning body or physical intelligence, musical intelligence, referring to musical ability, interpersonal skills, or people smart, intrapersonal intelligence, or self awareness, and most recently, naturalist intelligence, meaning nature smart.

Since Gardner published his theory in 1983 many tests have been written to determine where a persons intelligences lie. Meanwhile educators have pushed the theory one step further and equated these intelligence factors with learning styles, suggesting that a student will learn better if material is presented in the mode of their learning style. For example, a person who is strong musically and weak linguistically would develop their linguistic skills better through music. A person who is weak bodily and physically, may best be encouraged to increase their physical ability through reading about the importance of physical exercise, diet, and health, and the different activities that can benefit them. Then they would go out and participate in these activities, and write about their progress. This allows them to improve their skills in a weak area by involving a mode of their strength intelligence. This however, poses a challenge to lesson planning. How do we plan each lesson to incorporate the learners strengths?

One possible way of accomplishing multiple intelligence lesson planning would be to begin with your subject and brainstorm the eight different ways of presenting this to students in each of the eight different intelligences. Hopefully, as teachers employ this strategy again and again, it comes more naturally each time.

While I do believe in the eight multiple intelligences, and agree with Gardners, and many others, beliefs that our society puts a premium on only two intelligences, and within the tests for these intelligences is a great deal of cultural bias, I do see some degree of difficulty incorporating this. I?m not sure an entire movement in this direction is in the best interest of the students. For instance, if we cater our teaching methods to only the strengths of the learner, are we helping that student become a well rounded individual? This discussion is similar to the discussion over lesson length. With society and students developing shorter attention spans, there is a movement to shorten lesson length. Is this something we want to promote? What I do agree very strongly with is the idea of teaching/learning in all the intelligence areas. I believe this will create a most well rounded person, and better prepare them for society as an adult. REFERENCES: ? ?

Author: Rusty Tideman

Date of post: 2006-05-12