The topic of Multiple Intelligences (MI) and student learning has been around a long time. Simply it’s trying to match up the various abilities that students have and the teacher’s instructional approaches.
For me, it wasn’t until I was teaching almost 10 years that I learned of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence (MI) Theory. Up until then I knew that kids learned differently but once I learned about MI my teaching toolkit exploded with ideas. Understanding the theory and learning new ways to meet student needs opened my eyes to endless possibilities. These strategies were extremely helpful when I was hired as a Teacher of the Talented and Gifted. Although the students were highly abled, many were limited in their strengths and the MI approach helped them to think about topics differently.
As a student teacher supervisor at the local college I find that teachers are well versed in learning intelligences and styles. Most lessons include differentiation in content, approach and assessment. This is important as teachers try to balance educational standards and innate abilities of each student. Having a good understanding helps teacher’s options to engage and motivate ALL learners.
Parents are very aware of their child’s natural abilities but may not know the “technical” name for it. As a teacher and principal, I heard from many parents the areas their children excelled in or the way they learned best. This information was especially helpful when placing children in class placement. So, when teaching kids at home or in school, or finding the perfect new classroom, why wouldn’t we think about the strengths and learning styles of kids. Don’t we want them to do their best?
Learning Intelligences Simplified
- Word learner – Child expresses himself/herself well and enjoys reading and writing.
- On-the-move learner – Child is well coordinated and learns best when physically involved in doing things.
- On-my-own learner – Child prefers to work alone. Enjoys independent projects and likes to set own goals.
- Number learner – Child is interested in logical thinking. Often enjoys puzzles and math.
- Nature learner – Child likes being outside and often enjoys science.
- Rhythmic learner – Child enjoys music and rhythm.
- With-friends learner – Child works best with other students and is often a leader in the class.
- Construction learner – Child loves drawing and building things.
In addition to learning intelligences we all have a preferred learning style. In general, the more avenues of input (auditory/hearing), kinesthetic/movement, or visual/sight, the higher the possibility of student learning. Don’t we all learn better when we learn in different ways?