The older your child the more meetings you've had with your child's school. Most of the time these are meetings with your child's teachers at a parent-teacher night when you get to meet your child's new teachers and hopefully hear more about what is going on in the school. Many schools now have monthly newsletters concerned with the way the school operates.
Many of the parents have heard about the open classroom, no child left behind, teaching to the whole child, and the concept of multiple intelligences. A good number of these parents have no clue as to what these mean even though they understand these methods will determine the success of their children. I would like to spend the next few weeks discussing what these programs mean.
The idea of Multiple Intelligences or MI came from Howard Gardner's book, "Frames of Mind" that was published in 1983. Multiple Intelligences aims to identify the child's hidden talents. As to what these talents are, Dr. Gardner at the Harvard Graduate School of Education breaks intelligence up seven different categories:
1) Musical: Gardner states that this is the ability to discern meaning in rhythmically arranged sets of pitches and then to reproduce them.
2) Logical- Mathematical: covers the skill with numbers and a fascination with their patterns and operations, scientific ability, and formal reasoning.
3) Linguistic: concerns skill with words characterized by a sensitivity to their meaning, order, function, sound, and rhythm.
4) Spatial: is the capacity to perceive the world accurately and to manipulate these perceptions mentally.
5) Bodily: is the ability to use the body in highly differentiated and skilled ways for expressive and goal-directed purposes.
6) Intrapersonal: is the capacity to discriminate among and understand one's own feelings and to draw upon them in guiding one's behavior.
7) Interpersonal: is the ability to make distinctions among other individuals, especially their moods, intentions, and motivations.
Many educators and administrators believe the Theory of Multiple Intelligences should be used in all classrooms. This would mean the teacher should learn the intelligent quotient of all the students in their classroom. When classroom size is 25-30 students this would mean the teacher may have to teach a lesson using 7 different strategies. But, how are these strategies developed?
Gardner states," The most I can hope to accomplish here is to provide a feeling for each specific intelligence. I am painfully aware that a convincing case for each candidate intelligence remains the task of other days and other volumes." For the past 27 years those other volumes have yet to appear. In 1993, Gardner published, "Multiple Intelligences: The theory in practice. This was simply a a diffuse and unsystematic listing of projects. Gardner at that time stated, "there is plenty of anecdotal evidence in support of MI but no formal studies. Robert Siegler of Carnegie Mellon University states, "at the moment we don't know that they work.
Gardner continues by stating that it goes against the grain of his philosophy to develop tests to measure the intelligences, a prerequisite psychologists say would be necessary to determine the validity of the theory. Remember these same school based psychologists insist there is a category called, "EH", when dealing with children in our schools. The "EH" means emotionally handicapped. Psychologists do not have this term to describe any child's emotional reality.
It is a fact that Gardner never laid down a detailed plan for applying his theory in schools. He insists, "that it is a waste of time to simply "exercise the intelligence muscles." The danger of Multiple Intelligences is that it leads to wasted time, to an emphasis on less important skills and to a false sense that learning has taken place when it has not. When you participate in your child's next meeting with administration and teachers and they bring up the concept of Multiple Intelligences ask many questions because how your child is educated is the best gift you can ever give.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine.
Maine Publisher's Association Best weekly column award for 2004
Recipient of Theodore William Richards Award for excellence in teaching secondary school science for 2007.
Email Jim: email@example.com