Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences has been grasped by the education community as a wonderful and meaningful way to acknowledge, "We are not all the same, we do not all have the same kind of minds, and education works most effectively for most individuals if... human differences are taken seriously." (Gardner, 1995)
Today's education is riddled with funding issues, dropped music and art classes for economic purposes, and problems with lower test scores. Why aren't new teachers using Howard Gardner's "Multiple Intelligences" as a tool to reach as many students as possible?
The Multiple Intelligences are: Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual/Spatial, Intraspective, Interspective, Logical/Mathematical and Linguistic. Gardner suggested three more intelligences-Naturalist- Natural Environment, Spiritual/Existential- Religion /Philosophical, Moral- Ethics, Humanity, Value of Life.
These last three "intelligences" are more difficult to assess, but have been recognized in people who have improved the quality of life for others.
Human differences, our uniqueness, offer valuable contributions to society. There is creativity in everyone. Studies have found that after the rigors of raising a family, or after retirement, latent talents have been discovered, and these talents were present throughout life, but not encouraged.
It is up to parents and teachers to provide intelligent environments. Many were educated with teachers and parents who did not encourage cultural diversity, and did not say they could draw a purple tree, or sing an off- beat song. They did not ignite their imaginations, and give them quiet time to process the world's wonder and its' opportunities. No, multiple intelligences was not stressed in the teacher education classes, or spoken in the Pediatrician's office. School systems, so caught up in fiduciary problems, don't even think about getting to the root of education, which is really teaching, tailored toward the child. The IEP's (Individual Educational Plan) rarely include assessing the "talents" of the child and then incorporating that learning style into his curriculum.
To teach using the Multiple Intelligences, students should be sitting at tables of six. If there are desks, they may be arranged in a group of six. The chairs or desks, should have space underneath for book storage. Each table or group is a team. The room is like a corporation "brainstorming" room. The teacher chooses the captain (facilitator), recorder, materials leader, for each group and the jobs will rotate around the group.
The responsibilities of the captain will be to keep the table's students on task, and will be in charge of reporting the results of the final project. Another student will record who is doing what task for the project. This helps the teacher grade an individual student on the project. Each table will become a "team," and create a team name. The teacher guides the class through the steps of the lesson, and the material's student at each table will be the only one getting up for the supplies needed for the lesson. Each student's talents will be used within the group.
Establishing stations- A student who is strong musically, and weak numerically, should be taught numerical and logical skills through music, and not by numbers alone. Math stations should provide headphones with songs including math formulas, etc. There should be an art station, writing, listening, organizing station (housing materials), and any other to encourage learning.
Finally, education using the multiple intelligences will be addressing apprenticeships, so a student will get a chance to explore a trade or profession that works within his or her intelligences. This is not to track a person into a trade, but the right apprenticeship will feel natural, and most likely bring the student into a field that will bring many years of joy since it was tailored toward his or her skills and abilities.
Education is in trouble, and there are many reasons, but using the Multiple Intelligences is one tool to bring us to the forefront of global learning.