Multiple Intelligences Newsletter, Vol 33, No 2
October 10, 2023
Dear MI Fans,
What do MI teachers say?
For more than 30 years, I’ve used this forum to share the power and potential of MI. Many experts have shared their thoughts and experiences, including Dr. Howard Gardner, the creator of MI. It’s hard to be more of an expert about MI than Gardner, right? Well, not totally.
You see, while Howard is an expert for conceiving of MI, the teachers who implement it are also MI experts. They take Gardner’s theory and bring it to life! Their evidence about the effectiveness of MI is incredibly powerful because they used it to help their students learn.
In this and the next several issues, I will be sharing the thoughts of some amazing MI teachers. These are amazing teachers who used MI when they worked at the New City School. As you’ll see, their use of MI affected their curriculum and their pedagogy in wonderful ways – and students benefited.
This edition of Intelligence Connections features the reflections of Diane Davenport, the Performing Arts teacher at New City School. Future issues will feature thoughts of other New City School faculty members. (Of course, I’d also be delighted to connect with a teacher who used MI but did not work at New City School.)
Let me hear from you and enjoy!
Facilitator of the ASCD MI PIC
UM-St. Louis Scholar In Residence
THE GIFT OF MI TO THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS
By Diane Davenport, Former Performing Arts Teacher at New City School
My commitment as a teacher was to strive at being able to reach many different learners in many different ways, a journey of the experiential process. I came to this path of exciting educational practice because of The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. I was introduced to this theory in 1988, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Thomas Hoerr, when I came to The New City School as the Performing Arts teacher. The staff worked together on discussing Dr. Howard Gardner’s book, Frames of Mind. After much discussion and thought the staff put into action, pioneering the application of this theory. The practice still continues.
I have been retired from full-time teaching and have continued to work as an arts consultant. I have consulted with school districts, arts organizations like The Center of Creative Arts, Metro Theater Company and other groups, using as my theme, “Arts and Multiple Intelligences.”
As we began our journey at New City School, I hopped on the path immediately because I had already been integrating some of the foci of the theory in my previous 20 years of teaching, not knowing how connected I was to the thoughts of Howard Gardner. Yes, you might say, “This sounds like integrated arts, but is it really?” MI goes deeper because it really does address the importance of the personal and inter-personal intelligences, which contributes so much to the creative process and validates the importance of the Arts In the learner culture. Humanism is certainly a pillar of this theory.
My classroom had an engaging ambience that included visual reminders of awareness of the diversity within our world and school populations. The physical space reflected my commitment to circular spaces. The students, when seated, were in a community circle where we often started class with a drumming activity, a drama experience, a song, etc. There was also enough space for creative movement, respecting our bodily-kinesthetic learners.
I used literature and creative writing to get at the imagery created by words: “How do the words move, sound, and smell?” These responses became mini-performance pieces. Often times different prints or photos of paintings were used to create tableaus as paintings that come to life. Here is a poem written by one of the students that became a performance piece including, sounds, movement, spoken word and light imagery: “Children of the World.” I also tried to bring closure to the activities by having the students respond inter-personally or intra-personally to the activities.
In writing this piece, it makes me feel very good that I was able to develop, encourage, and pass on to my learners the richness of being able to acknowledge the strengths in each student through diverse experiences.
All: Who am I?
#1. I am the calm before the storm,
The passion of music.
The light in a painting..
#2. Don’t paint me in just one color..
#1 I am a bird of many colors,
I am the diversity of the open skies…
#3. Don’t assume that I don’t hear you..
I am everything I’ve ever seen
Everything I’ve ever read,
And all the things I’ve only dreamed of..
#4. Don’t judge me for my beliefs..
#1. I am the abstract child of my thoughts,
The soft breeze of my memories.
I believe in so many things…
#5. Don’t think of me as too young to
#1. I am the lotus blossom that broke
Through the surface of the water to
Bloom in the enlightenment of the sun..
#6. Don’t look down on me because of where I
I live in the beautiful place
Where my imagination takes me,
I live everywhere in the world,
And inside my own heart..
#1. Who am I?..
All: I am every child…
#1. I am me…..
All: Accept me…
#1. I am!
Thanks to fellow staff members, Dr. Hoerr, and Dr. Gardner for opening the windows to a refreshing way to work with learners.
ASCD PICs are member-initiated groups designed to unite people around a common area of interest in the field of education. PICs allow participants to exchange ideas, share information, identify and solve problems, grow professionally, and establish collegial relationships. You can learn about ASCD’s networks, publications, conferences, workshops, and the dialogues sponsored by ASCD at www.ascd.org. You can also register for the free, daily ASCD SmartBrief.