Multiple Intelligences in the classroom

Are you willing to accept the challenge of teaching a concept from 7 different perspectives so as to connect and impact the various learning styles of your students?

Howard Gardner and Thomas Armstrong  are and have been the pioneers of Multiple Intelligences in the classroom.  They attempt to address the issue of the problem of the one and the many:  “It is of the utmost importance that we recognize and nurture all of the varied human intelligences, and all of the combinations of intelligences.  We are all so different largely because we all have different combinations of intelligences.  If we recognize this, I think we will have at least a better chance of dealing appropriately with the many problems that we face in the world.”  (Thomas Armstrong, Multiple Intelligences in the Class, (Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development)

I have a 4 hour class this semester in Ethics, and each class is comprised of ten, twenty minute learning plans (it is said that our average attention span is 1 minutes!)  that are instructional, interactive, and interconnected.  The 20 minute learning exercises reflect the 7 dimensions of multiple intelligences to better understand the goals and objectives of the learning plan.

Thus, if we are studying the ethical topic of capital punishment, we will tap into the 7 dimensions of multiple intelligences relative to capital punishment by:

1. listening to the lyrics of a song or poem –“To Althea, from Prison” –“Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage…” by Richard Lovelace – he wrote this song while imprisoned for his Royalist views in 1642 -(linguistic and musical);

2. view a DVD – “You don’t want to live in my house”- (intrapersonal);

3. And 4.  work as a group to re-create the size and shape of a prison cell (mathematical-spatial-bodily/kinesthetic);

5. Debate about the ethical pros and cons of capital punishment (logical – pro/con.org);

6. discussing financial facts and the overall cost of maintaining the prison system (mathematical);

and 7. sharing any personal experience individuals may have had with someone in prison(interpersonal and intrapersonal).

Thus, all 7 dimensions of multiple intelligences are included which hopefully will address the problem of the one and the many types of learning capabilities,  thus fulfilling  the goal of quality learning and understanding by giving life and meaning to the competencies for that learning plan.  Assessing the quality, breadth, and depth of learning and understanding will be measured by the student’s ability to tap into the multiplicity of his or her various levels of multiple intelligences.  Therefore, and at times, much to the surprise of the student, there is more than one right answer.   Memorization and recall are kept to a bare minimum whereas understanding, thinking critically and creatively, relevance, depth, breadth, and significance are applauded, measured, and celebrated.

Roger J. Vanden Busch

One thought on “Multiple Intelligences in the classroom

  1. Thanks for this reminder Roger. Thinking about these types of issues while preparing classroom activities always plays a role in developing better experiences for students. It is good to be reminded from time to time.

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