Multiple Intelligences Newsletter, Vol 27, No 3

November 1, 2017

Greetings MI Fans,

“Who was the smartest person in your high school graduation class?” [Before you read any further, take a moment to consider the question.]

I often begin my presentations – whether they are about MI or The Formative Five (which inhere in the intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences) – by asking the audience that question. I pause to allow them to reflect, and then ask whether it was an easy or a difficult question.

“If you thought it was an easy question,” I say, “that’s because you were thinking about who walked across the stage to receive an award, who had the highest GPA. But if it was a hard question,” I continue, “it’s because you are thinking of what happened after high school, who’s achieved what, and you are noticing that the most successful people may not have been the class valedictorian.” Generally, this statement is met with quite a few nods of agreement. Simply put, success in life – however you choose to define it – stems from intelligences beyond linguistic and logical-mathematical. I use “beyond” purposely because it is important to read, write, and calculate well; we do our students a disservice if we fail to teach them these skills. But there are other skills, too, other intelligences that are important.

We need to let students use all of their intelligences in learning, and we need to consciously teach the full range of intelligences. Yes, students need to be able to read about the U.S. Civil War and write what they have learned, but why limit them to using these pathways? I’ve also seen students gain an understanding of the causes of the Civil War, for example, through drawing about it, by creating a puppet-show that features characters illustrating different opinions of the time, and by comparing and contrasting the musical lyrics of the North and South. Using MI helped them learn.

It is discouraging to hear people doubting the value of MI. My guess is that these are folks who haven’t worked directly with students. When you enable students to learn through their strengths, you see how they learn more and have fun. Life-long learning, something we all esteem, begins with joyful learning, and MI can be a powerful tool in eliciting this.

As an example of how MI can be an effective tool in teaching, this issue contains an interesting article by Dr. Phyllis Adcock, a Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She describes how she has used MI to teach her undergraduate students. Good for her!

Thanks for reading, feel free to forward this newsletter to a friend, and let me know if you’d like to share your MI thoughts in our newsletter!

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