This post is the first in a series contributed by Heidi Ingram to discuss the overall theory of Multiple Intelligences, the different intelligences and ideas to do with your children to promote growth in these areas.
When you try to learn something new, you may prefer to learn by listening to someone talk to you about
the information. Others prefer to read about a concept to learn it, and still others need to see a demonstration of the concept. Learning Style Theory proposes that different people learn in different ways and that it is good to know your own preferred learning style.
Most of us have a particular preference as to how we channel information to our brain. Some of us are auditory. This means that it is easiest for us to pay attention to information that is presented to us orally.
Others are visual, which means that we learn best when we are allowed to actually look at what is being presented to us. Still others are kinesthetic. This means that we pay attention best when we are allowed to explore “hands on" the information we are trying to learn. In few cases, individuals are equally balanced, which means they use each learning style to the same degree when attempting to learn.
Let's look at an example from the early childhood classroom. When a teacher reads a story, she speaks, which benefits the auditory learner. She shows the illustrations as she read which assists the visual learner.
The kinesthetic learner is involved if allowed to actually hold the book (or a copy of the book) or help turn the pages as it is read. If teachers use all three approaches to learning when they are providing information to children, it is more likely that they will use the channel that is their preference and attend to what is being
The theory of Multiple Intelligences comes from the work of Howard Gardner and was first published in
1983 in his book, Frames of Mind. Until Gardner proposed the existence of seven, and now eight, ways of demonstrating one's high ability levels, popular belief held that intelligence was measured by the score obtained when taking an intelligence test, primarily the Stanford Benet. The problem with intelligence tests was that they measured only an individual's linguistic and mathematical skills. Gardner argued that there were other ways an individual could be smart. For example, musicians demonstrate a high ability to perceive, discriminate, transform, and express musical forms. Actors, dancers, and athletes demonstrate an expertise in using their whole body to express ideas and feelings. Craft persons and sculptors show facility in using their hands to produce to transform things.
Gardner not only expanded the identification of the number of ways an individual can be intelligent, but
also the definition of intelligence. He suggests that intelligence has more to do with the capacity for
solving problems and fashioning products in a context-rich and naturalistic setting than it does with performing isolated task on a test.
Gardner believes that intelligence does not just exhibit itself in the score on a test. As a matter of fact, he used a stringent system of eight criteria through which all potential skills, talents, and mental capacities have to pass before they are determined to be true human intelligences. Thus far, only eight ways of being smart have passed the test to be recognized as intelligences.
Gardner also believes that everyone possesses all eight intelligences in varying magnitudes. Some
intelligence is stronger than others, and the profile of intelligences varies from person to person. Each of the
intelligences can improve with practice and will continue to be enhanced over a lifetime.
In the next part of this series, we will break down the various intelligences. Stay tuned!
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