Teach English in Anqing Zhen - Chifeng Shi

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Multiple intelligence is definitely not a new concept but the realization of its importance in designing lessons has come to light in recent times, whereby a lot of audio-video, visual aids, real life objects, props, instruments, experiments, building blocks etc. are being incorporated in the classroom to aid in effective and enhanced learning, in comparison to the blackboards and books used earlier. As a concept, ‘intelligence’ was first discovered and mentioned as early as Charles Darwin’s times. While many behaviorists and psychologists have mentioned it in their theories, Howard Gardner brought it to light in his study ‘Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences’, in 1980s. Therefore, how does understanding multiple intelligences help in creating impactful lessons? Based on my own observations and life experiences, no one individual is more ‘intelligent’ than another! While some people may argue that the IQ test defines how intelligent one person is, it is evident that high IQ does not decide whether the person will have capability and develop competency at art, crafts, creativity, etc. IQ only a measure of logical and mathematical (aptitude) capabilities. There are people with moderate or low IQ, yet have displayed excellent levels of intelligence in the fields of their own, such entrepreneurship, art, music, sports, people management (EQ), cookery etc. Each individual learns via different means and like-wise exhibits their intelligence in a different manner. I would like to deliberate that the demonstration of the particular competency may be a measure of the person’s intelligence in that particular field. (Disclaimer: Psychology is complex, thus the performance of an individual in a particular competency may be influenced by many other factors). Our education system is heavily biased towards teaching and testing the linguistic and mathematical – logical mode. However, each one of us have multiple intelligences and each of us learns differently. Therefore, to ensure learning, as a teacher you must understand the different means through each student learns and performs. Not just that, the teacher must also understand the different learning styles of each individual. Now, that doesn’t mean that you must design learning material for each student! What I mean to say is have a variety different types of teaching material/ aid to cater to all the different types of learners because no two individual may learn in the same way. We all know that we learn through the 5 senses, olfactory, gustatory, Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. One may learn using all five senses or a combination of them, or may have one learning style more dominant than the others. While I do want to say that you must ensure your lessons cater to different types of learners, lets now look at a more complex learning styles, defined by Edward Gardner. I do support these multiple intelligences, since no one intelligence can stand alone as a means to learn and perform in multitude of areas or gain expertise in any one field, other than linguistic or mathematical field. According to Howard Gardner there are seven intelligences: 1. Logical/ mathematical intelligence – these children are wizards in the field of solving problems, finding patterns, analytical ability, finding rationale, connecting the dots etc. Some of the teaching aids that could be used are puzzles, case studies, mathematical problems, real life factual cases, reading and comprehension exercises, experiments, to name a few 2. Musical – these children are excellent at music, can create music, observe and recognize patterns in the sound, may be able to create notes, patterns and learn faster using audio recordings, CD, melodious voice, intonation and voice modulation, playing instruments, singing and many more. 3. Visual-spatial – children with this dominant intelligence observe, visualize, create spatial map, and store the knowledge in the form of pictures. Every time they have to recall the information, they recall in the form of pictures. Thus, pictures, pictographs, real-time objects, visual representations or being in the actual environment, help them learn faster. 4. Verbal – Linguistic – these learners are excellent at using words, language, and are good at reading, writing, speaking, articulation, story-telling etc. 5. Kinesthetic learners are great at using their motor skills to handle, experiment, feel, touch to observe, recognize and apply. They would be great at sports, dancing, acting or be able to use any physical part of their body to learn from and demonstrate that learning. They would like to physically involved in doing things. 6. Interpersonal intelligence is about the interaction with others. They are easily able to observe, feel, recognize, evaluate what others are feeling, their mood, the temperament, and respond accordingly. This is similar Emotional intelligence where one is easily able to regulate to the environment and respond effectively. They are high on empathy. 7. Intrapersonal – as Gardner mentioned, would be self-introspection, to create deeper understanding of one-self, knowing oneself better. This in turn may create a more spiritual and higher being with high self-esteem is what I fathom. A test like Johari Window could be used to help one understand themselves, however there are many personality tests that available such as DiSC, MBTI etc. For children or young learners, because they are yet to discover personality, likes, dislikes and preferences, some questionnaires or directed conversations may help. It is imperative to have variety of learning aids, use blended approach and have an integrated learning/ teaching approaches to wholly develop an individual. The process of learning is much more complex than what has been mentioned so far since the way we learn varies from one person to another and that the technologies, systems and the exposure to the real & virtual world is fast being exposed. Thus, I feel that just these 7 intelligences don’t completely define multiple intelligences. There is more to it. There is more to discover on how we learn – such as dreams; would it still be considered intrapersonal. While I may sidetrack here, one question for all of us to ponder: Is wisdom counted as a type or a level of intelligence?