During the 21st century our medical research lead us as a culture to focus on a new understanding of the brain - physiologically. In other words, we now had to take a hard look at truths revealed through science about how learning occurs. Howard Gardner's work was pivotal in this area when he identified 7 intelligences (8 now) and scrutinized how this information should impact our classrooms. His perspective was based on a global view of cultures - rather than a national one. This lead to the identification of several essential truths about learning.
Here is a summary of the U.S. implementation, taken from Education World.
"When asked how educators should implement the theory of multiple intelligences, Gardner says, '(I)t's very important that a teacher take individual differences among kids very seriously … The bottom line is a deep interest in children and how their minds are different from one another, and in helping them use their minds well.'
An awareness of multiple-intelligence theory has stimulated teachers to find more ways of helping all students in their classes. Some schools do this by adapting curriculum. In "Variations on a Theme: How Teachers Interpret MI Theory," (Educational Leadership, September 1997), Linda Campbell describes five approaches to curriculum change:
- Lesson design. Some schools focus on lesson design. This might involve team teaching ("teachers focusing on their own intelligence strengths"), using all or several of the intelligences in their lessons, or asking student opinions about the best way to teach and learn certain topics.
- Interdisciplinary units. Secondary schools often include interdisciplinary units.
- Student projects. Students can learn to "initiate and manage complex projects" when they are creating student projects.
- Assessments. Assessments are devised which allow students to show what they have learned. Sometimes this takes the form of allowing each student to devise the way he or she will be assessed, while meeting the teacher's criteria for quality.
- Apprenticeships. Apprenticeships can allow students to "gain mastery of a valued skill gradually, with effort and discipline over time." Gardner feels that apprenticeships "…should take up about one-third of a student's schooling experience."
Author: Anne Guigon
One of the challenges we need as educators to address is a balance of opportunities for all children to learn. This is often difficult for two reasons:
- we teach the way we learn or have been taught
- we don't know what type of intelligence we possess and don't recognize the students' learning styles as separate from ourselves.
Could it be students fail because they can not process and comprehend the information/process we teach them due to their learning styles?
I a time of assessment, assessment, assessment, this is a question that needs to be asked.
For further information on Howard Gardner go to: Concept to Classroom