Whether you’re an educator, trainer, or instructional designer, you’ve probably asked yourself, “How can I make learners learn?”
Well, it’s not about making them…
It’s about finding what motivates them so they want to learn.
So how do we do that? That would make classroom management easier!
Find their intelligence!
Are your learners as smart as this guy?
How about as smart as this guy?
Who is this guy you ask??
Derek Paravicini is an extraordinary pianist, despite being blind and having severe learning difficulties.
Pretty Impressive! Derek was born 25 weeks premature, and weighed barely over half a kilogram. As a result of the oxygen therapy Derek required, he lost his sight and grew up with a severe learning disability. By the age of four, he had taught himself to play piano by ear. He played his first major concert at the age of nine.
How about this guy?
Alonzo Clemons suffered brain damage as a result of a fall when he was a child. Although his IQ is only between 40-50, Alonzo has a photographic memory and creates amazingly realistic sculptures after just glimpsing at an animal.
Derek and Alonzo are unable to accomplish the simplest reading, writing, or mathematical tasks. But they both possess incredible skills that surpass those with the highest IQs.
How can we explain something like this? Both of these men are savants. Although they both have severe mental disabilities, they also have extraordinary mental abilities not found in most people.
Howard Gardner may know…
He studied situations like these to help him develop his Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
He looks outside the traditional definition of intelligence to see what really makes people tick.
A learner who excels in an area is not more intelligent overall than one who struggles.
The second learner may be stronger in another kind of intelligence.
We’ve probably all heard someone say something like, “I’m a math person.” This person is identifying the type of intelligence at which they’re strongest. So are non-math people unable to succeed in mathematical subjects?
The second learner may best learn the material through a different approach. The beauty of Dr. Gardner’s theory is that it guides us to alternatives in teaching!
We all have the potential to be intelligent in any type of intelligence. However, we may be stronger in some more than others.
Our culture focuses most of its attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence.
Dr. Gardner suggests we place equal attention on other types of intelligences which give the world…
To name a few…
Ok…so we know that his theory says there are different intelligences. And we know that the degree of our intelligences varies between each type of intelligence.
So what are they already!?
Types of Intelligences
Whoa… Now let’s break that down.
Oooohhh –OK! That’s better.
Linguistic = Word smart
Logical-mathematical = Reasoning/Number smart
Spatial = Picture smart
Bodily-Kinesthetic = Body smart
Musical = Music smart
Interpersonal = People smart
Intrapersonal = Self smart
Naturalist = Nature smart
But how do you teach to these types of intelligences?
Regardless of topic, you can appeal to each type of intelligence. Simply find what matters to them! But remember, teach to all these styles, not just the dominant style of your classroom! Let’s see what matters…
Linguistic - Word Smart Words matter! Spoken or written, words help these learners think and remember. Poets, lawyers, and speakers are likely to be word smart.
Todd learns best when he reads about a new subject and has a chance to think about the words he just read. It also helps him to speak about topics and teach others.
Logical-Mathematical – Reasoning/Number Smart These learners analyze problems logically and investigate issues scientifically. Numbers matter!
Jason likes to solve problems through using logical processes. He can connect concepts to one another easily and with little guidance. To satisfy his learning needs, all he needs is a process and a problem. His analytical thinking will help him do the rest!
Spatial - Picture Smart Recognizing patterns and relationships in space is easy for these learners. Sketching, painting, and multimedia activities keep them interested and involved.
Colleen is studying to be a photographer. She connects the dots between most concepts just like she does between spatial relationships! To challenge her, ask her to map stories or solve visual puzzles. She typically uses organizers and charts to help her accomplish her tasks.
Bodily-Kinesthetic - Body Smart Get these learners moving! They want to use their whole bodies to solve problems!
It’s hard for Chad to sit still for long periods of time. To get him involved in his English class (his least favorite subject), his professor asked him to act out the most significant act of Hamlet. Chad read and watched videos of the play to help him select the best act to perform!
Musical - Music Smart These learners excel at performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns.
Jenna gets bored easily. Her advisor recommended creating songs to help her internalize concepts! She’s using this advice and also links concepts to thought-provoking music to help her remember new information. Her boredom has decreased, and her grades have improved!
Interpersonal - People Smart People matter! Interpersonal intelligence helps people work well with one another because they have the ability to relate and understand others.
Kyla can’t wait to talk to her friends after class. To keep her attention, her professor built more group activities into class lessons. Most of the class is benefiting; Kyla especially!
Intrapersonal - Self Smart Intrapersonal learners reflect and relate themselves to the greater state of the world.
Dylan is quiet in class and tends to drift off easily. To find out what he is thinking, his professor asked him to write short reflections on class topics. She discovered Dylan’s exceptional skills at theorizing, philosophizing, and evaluating his own thinking patterns.
Naturalist - Nature Smart Some learners naturally recognize, categorize, and draw upon certain features of their environment.
Sunny notices things in her environment that others tend to miss. To help her learn new concepts, her professor draws connections between the topic and Sunny’s environment. She is now more in tune with her school work just as she’s in tune with nature.
Here’s a reminder of the types of intelligences…
So what? Mindy Kornhaber sums that up for us quite nicely…
“ ... the theory validates educators' everyday experience: students think and learn in many different ways… In turn, this reflection has led many educators to develop new approaches that might better meet the needs of the range of learners in their classrooms.” ~~Mindy L. Kornhaber Project Zero research team on arts education
However, some state that Gardner’s theories are intuitions rather than the result of empirical research.
True. Tests to measure these intelligences do not currently exist.
This could be accomplished with several measures or tests for each intelligence.
Gardner himself has not explored this approach to prevent labeling and stigmatization.
However, research around the functioning of the brain generally continues to support the notion of multiple intelligences.
Derek Paravicini and Alonzo Clemons are prime examples. Both suffered damage to the brain but still exhibit extraordinary intelligences: Derek in musical intelligence and Alonzo in kinesthetic and naturalist intelligences.
There may still be questions about the theory of multiple intelligences. But it has encouraged a significant number of educators to look beyond the narrow confines of the traditional system.
In fact, Schools Using Multiple Intelligences Theory (SUMIT) have reported increased SATs scores, parental participation, and discipline.
subjective judgment, but his theory helps us BROADEN our focus and help people live their lives well. Dr. Gardner may use a fair amount of
Traditional methods restrict creativity and don’t reach all learners.
Remember, it’s about finding what motivates learners so they want to learn.
We’re all different.
And that’s ok... But we need to recognize and account for that.
There are more than just a few types of learners. We must appeal to all learners.
The multiple intelligences theory motivates educators, trainers, and instructional designers to improve curriculum and education.
It gives us a broad vision of education.
All seven intelligences are needed to live life well.
All seven intelligences are needed to learn well.
Give ‘em to your learners!
This theory gives learners more opportunities to learn about a topic.
It gives educators, trainers, and instructional designers more opportunities keep all learners engaged– through variety!
Traditional curriculum with a single form of assessment does not accommodate exploration and creativity.
But YOU can!
Ultimately, the theory of multiple intelligences is a useful addition if used to promote high quality learning, rather than as an end in and of itself.
Psst…Main Point – right here!
Instead of one way to teach, think, dream, and live…we now have at least EIGHT!
“ I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place.” ~~ Howard Gardner