Balancing the learning experience by engaging learners in ways that play to their strengths while also challenging them to develop other intelligences.
The key questions for this pillar are:
- How are we structuring the the learning experience so students can thrive as unique learners?
- How are we preparing our community of learners for potential learning challenges?
Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has been transformational in terms of how teachers and students view learning. The video below gives a brief overview of the various intelligences outlined in Gardner’s theory and features a school in Gainesville, GA that has built its curriculum around the idea of multiple intelligences.
Click here to watch an extended interview with Howard Gardner
As with most theories, the idea of multiple intelligences is not without its critics. Some warn against curricula being designed around only those intelligences where the students are strong. In fact, that has been the pit fall of traditional education in the first place – it tends to focus on and emphasizes just a couple of these intelligences – mostly the logical/mathematical intelligence and the verbal/linguistic intelligence (think lecture based classrooms), which Gardner refers to as the “lawyer smart”.
Focusing on just one or two intelligences, even if they are not the ones favored in traditional education, is problematic because all the intelligences are important. Strengthening and engaging all intelligences empowers students to tackle the myriad challenges and pursue the various opportunities they will encounter outside of school. Understanding and integrating multiple intelligences into how we teach helps to exercise and challenge the brain in diverse way, as opposed to training the brain in just one or two ways of learning.
The key for peace education, then, is about being more self-aware of our practice as educators. Are we conscious of the various smarts and intelligences our students are bringing into the learning space? Are we challenging ourselves as educators to create lesson plans, activities, and assignments that engage the various ways in which we know students learn?
Keeping these questions in mind also plays an integral role in creating safe learning environments where students, and their diverse learning styles, are acknowledged and welcomed. No student should feel like the classroom is a place that denies them opportunities to engage with knowledge in ways that resonate with their learning styles. And every student should know that they will be supported by their classmates and their teacher if and when they are asked to practice a learning style that may be particularly challenging for them.
So, how are you smart? Click here to take a multiple intelligence quiz (of which there are many), and see what kinds of intelligences you posses?
Reflection Question: Do you feel the results of your multiple intelligence quiz were accurate? How, if at all, does multiple intelligence theory make you think differently about teaching and learning?
- Gardner, Howard. Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice.
- Gardner, Howard. The Five Minds of the Future.
- Edutopia. Arts Integration for Deeper Learning in Middle School.
- Multiple Intelligence Quiz (literacyworks.org)
- Multiple Intelligence Quiz (Birmingham Grid for Learning)
- Multiple Intelligence Quiz (printable)