ENGAGING EDUCATION » Applying Psychology

Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom

“The weight of evidence at the present time is that inelligence is multidimensional, and that the fulll range of these dimensions is not completely captured by any single general ability” (Sternberg, 1996).

In 1983, development psychologist Howard Gardner first proposed his theory about multiple intelligences, where there are at least 7 different forms of intelligence. While everyone has at least a measure of each of the intelligences, each person has a particular blend of them. So, for instance, Sarah may have a more develop musical intelligence, but Fred might have a stronger visual spatial intelligence, etc.

Gardner proposed that these intelligences do not have high correlations between them. This was in stark contrast to the prevailing notions of the standard IQ scale, which dominated throughout the 20th century. Most especially Charles Spearman’s notion of the g factor, which posits that all forms of intelligence are highly correlated.

What if we revised our classes according to the multiple intelligences? What if students took classes called, ”Bodily-Kinesthetic Education,” “Linguistic Education”, etc?

1. Well, at first glance, not much! Many of our class subjects would not need be changed much. e.g. Math would still be covered in “logical-mathematical education” class, and music will still be taught in a “musical intelligence” class.

2. But this theory does show us what kind of class our schools are currently lacking: interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist intelligence. We could have classes which explores human emotions, and shows students how to deal with them. For interpersonal education, we could extend our English class to include lessons about how to communicate in a variety of real-life settings, and through a variety of means (e.g verbally, through email, etc.) We could present students with tools on how to network, manage complex sets of relationships, and to deal with people tactfully.

As for naturalist education, I think the reason why this intelligence is largely neglected, is because our understanding and concern about protecting the environment is relatively new. Anyways, with this class, could teach students how to garden, appreciate nature, and survive in anture. Furthermore, Gardner’s naturalist intelligence includes more than just what we consider to be “nature.” It also includes being able to scanning and utilizing one’s environment, even in urban or man-made settings. We could teach students how to better observe and take note of what goes on around them. We could hone their sense of smell, taste, hearing, and touch.

3. There are two aspects to learning: in any given class (e.g. science class), 1) students learn about the world (e.g. after food is swallowed, it passes through the esophagus, befor entering the stomach), and 2) they learn to do things (e.g. when students write a lab report after they do a science experiment). This change would only affect the doing aspect, leaving courses which focus more on the learning about aspect (e.g. history class) untouched.

4. These new names will (hopefully) shift the classes’ emphasis on developing students’ skills, and helping students grow as human beings, rather than just dolling out the material, and testing students in order to compare them (which we could emphasize more alter on during their tertiary education.) It will help remind everyone of why we’re going to school in the first place.

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