It’s been a while since my last post. Anyway, I had a discussion with some of my classmates regarding Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory and the ways teachers might modify their classroom strategies based on an awareness of various learning styles.
I was really happy with how our small discussion went that I decided to share some key points:
On Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences:
Photo credit: http://www.umich.edu/
We talked about the implications of Gardner’s MI Theory to the teaching-learning process. His theory challenged the traditional definition of human intelligence, and posits that every person possesses varying levels of nine intelligences: verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, visual-spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, existential and naturalist intelligence. He proposed that these intelligences can be either ignored or developed. He also believes that it is the role of teachers to assess the learning needs of every individual based on their weaknesses and strengths.
I find Gardner’s theory very interesting. It does not seek to measure human intelligence in terms of short answer tests, which only measures the “rote memorization” skills of students. While some psychologists and sociologists criticize the MI theory for being impractical, I do believe that it has contributed a lot to the teaching-learning process. At first glance, his views about nurturing human intelligence might seem utopian, but I admire him for breaking the traditional standards of what skills should be developed inside the classroom.
Erika, Elmer, and Laura also provide insightful answers to my question. Should teachers focus on developing the strengths of their students, or should they divert their attention to their students’ mastery of “core knowledge” (mathematics, science, history, etc.)?
Basically, we all share similar opinions. We recognize the importance of teaching core knowledge, but it is also important to strengthen other skills students possess (Yu, 2012). Regardless of what subject you’re teaching, you should acknowledge your students’ talents and encourage them to develop both their strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you asked the class to write a poem about your lesson and you noticed that some of them actually has potential in writing, you should tell them what you think and assign activities that will hone their writing skills further (a journal will be good for this purpose).
In line with Gardner’s theory, teachers can also develop the intelligences of their students by incorporating activities that will help them discover their talents. You can ask them to write songs, create skits, or engage in group discussions throughout the entire school year (Macalalad and Ursolino, 2012). This way, you can identify other areas where they excel and show them that studying is not about memorizing things, but applying what they’ve learned to different aspects of life.
On Modifying Classroom Strategies
Photo credit: http://www.natcom.org
We also had a discussion about how teachers might change their classroom strategies based on their knowledge of various learning styles. I proposed two possibilities:
a.) They’ll try to adapt to their students’ learning styles. For example, if majority of the class performs better when presented with visual representations of facts (pictures, graphs, etc.), they’ll try to incorporate this into their teaching strategies. They might start using PowerPoint presentations during class discussions, and print handouts with more graphs and pictures than words.
b.) They’ll try to address their students’ weaknesses by experimenting with a variety of classroom strategies. They’ll try to strike a balance between different learning styles by presenting information in concrete ways (sensory) and providing students with theoretical frameworks (intuitive). The same thing goes for visual vs. verbal, active vs. reflective, and sequential vs. global learning styles.
I strongly believe that teachers should come up with classroom strategies that focuses on teaching students “how to learn” instead of “what to learn.” Based on their knowledge of various learning styles, teachers should think of ways to help students get out of their comfort zone. Instead of choosing a strategy that suits their students’ learning style, they should consider challenging their existing learning preferences and encourage them to explore other learning styles. This way, they can become well-rounded learners who can easily choose a learning preferences that is best for whatever task they were assigned to complete.
My classmates agreed with what I had in mind. Since our existing educational system does not really focus on only one learning style, it will be better to expose them to various learning preferences (Yu, 2012). This way, they can learn how to cope with different classroom strategies and how to process information in the most efficient way possible.
Kudos to Elmer Ursolino. Erika Kryss Yu, and Laura Macalalad!