When a teacher
is faced with twenty absolute beginner foreign language students, it can be intimidating and quite scary. They may sit at their desks until you have finished roll call or maybe not. It is difficult to reach everyone in a class especially with just one lesson plan. The girls may seem a little calmer and easier to keep on track while you have boys climbing under and over their desks. Sometimes a teacher
can feel invisible in these situations. Or maybe the flight response quickly goes through their mind. “What am I doing here?”
I have always been interested in the different ways that people learn. As a student, I didn't need to watch intently in class or take lots of notes. I would remember by page number what I would read in the text book and could recall it when needed for a test. It wasn't until I became a teacher
that I started to realize the different ways that my students were motivated.
Howard Gardner proposed the theory of multiple intelligences in 1983. It served as a model of intelligence that differentiates intelligence into various specific modalities, rather than seeing it as dominated by a single general ability. For example, the theory predicts that a child who learns to multiply easily is not necessarily more intelligent that a child who has more difficulty on this task. The student that masters multiplication may learn it best through a different approach.
There are eight accepted intelligences from the theory. They are spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Spatial deals with spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind's eye. Careers which suit this type of intelligence are artists, designers, and architects. A spatial person is good with puzzles. Linguistic deals with words, spoken or written. This type of intelligence is good at reading, writing, telling stories, and memorizing words along with dates. These people learn foreign languages easily. They have high verbal memory and recall.
Logical-mathematical intelligence deals with the traditional concepts of IQ. Their strengths are logic, abstractions, reasoning and numbers. Bodily-kinesthetic is based on the control of one's bodily motions and the capacity to handle objects skillfully. These people remember things through their body such as verbal memory. Musical intelligence has to do with sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. Musical intelligence may learn best through lectures. Interpersonal intelligence deals with the interaction with others. These people tend to be extroverts. They communicate and empathize easily with others. Intrapersonal intelligence deals with introspective and self-reflective abilities. People with intrapersonal intelligence have a deep understanding of the self. Naturalistic intelligence deals with nurturing and relating information to one's natural surroundings. Careers suited to this intelligence are farmers and gardeners. Finally, there is Existential intelligence. This has to do with spiritual or religious intelligence. They have the ability to contemplate questions
beyond sensory data.
Even though many teacher
s feel that this theory only validates what they already know: that students learn in different ways. This theory hasn't been accepted by most academics in intelligence or teaching.
I find the theories fascinating and a great way to find the strengths in all your students. Even though a lesson plan that would connect with all of the intelligences would be a very time consuming and difficult thing for a teacher
to do, I think it would be worth it to watch your entire class flourish. My coworkers and I have had many conversations about intelligences working here in Korea. It is difficult for a country such as Korea to understand and accept intelligences. They try so hard to keep everyone the same. For example, the special education students are not separated from regular classrooms. Their education system forces everyone through the same round hole even though you may be square shaped. I would love to continue to read and experiment with intelligences. My lessons each day push the comfort level of my students but I am trying to get them to find out who they are and what strengths they possess.