Multiple Intelligences Newsletter, Vol 33, No 4

March 4, 2024

Greetings MI Fans,

For years (since 1989!) this newsletter has featured the ideas of educators. Understanding that MI is a tool that can help students and teachers grow, I have cited the experts, including Howard Gardner, as well as others who have written about student success and intelligence. Of course, I often added the perspectives that I held from leading an MI school. I saw first-hand how using MI helped everyone learn and fed into our goal of joyful learning. .

In the past couple of issues, however, I took a different tack and shared the thoughts of some real experts, teachers who used MI each day to help students learn. Thanks to former New City School teachers Diane Davenport, Joy Poole, and Eileen Griffiths.

We’ll read some more teacher thoughts in future issues, but now I offer another first-hand look at the power of MI. Below you’ll see the thoughts of Joyce Briscoe, the mom of three students who attended New City School. Thanks to Joyce!

I also include a link to a short piece that speaks to the spatial intelligence. Let me hear from you: questions, comments, sharing MI experiences!

Facilitator of the ASCD MI PIC
UM-St. Louis Scholar In Residence

What A Parent Says About MI

by Joyce Briscoe

I first met Tom Hoerr when I interviewed him for the Washington University newsletter that I was writing. (In addition to being the head of the New City School, Tom was leading the university’s Non-Profit Management Program.) Usually I interviewed people over the phone, but my boss said, “You should go to New City… it’s like the United Nations over there.” Intrigued, I decided to go see for myself. I walked into the building and fell in love. My son was five at the time, not yet in kindergarten, and I had two simultaneous thoughts… David HAS to come to school here, and oh no, this school is WAY too far from my house.

I walked through the halls, entranced by all that I saw on the walls… children’s art, photographs of teachers and administrators, a mural with the theme of diversity, a giant papier mâché Driffin, the school’s mascot. I found my way to the front office and was introduced to Tom. As we talked about my background and his, Tom told me that the curriculum at New City was based on the theory of multiple intelligences, which I had never heard of. I had taught elementary school in a large public school district for ten years before I had children, and as Tom talked, I felt as if multiple intelligences addressed many of the systems that I had found difficult as a teacher. I had had concerns about the idea of a gifted program…what did it say to the child that missed the required cutoff by one point? Or to the child that didn’t come close? The kids in the gifted program got to go on field trips and had activities more fun than those in the regular classroom. It always seemed unfair. So when Tom said, “Our belief is that everyone has gifts,” it nearly made me cry. Yes. Everyone does. It is an equalizer. It creates an atmosphere that is not based on judgment or competition, but on acceptance and collaboration.

My son, and subsequently my two daughters, had the privilege of attending New City School (I drove 18 miles one way twice a day for 13 years… it was worth every mile and every minute). As we worked our way through the grades, MI had a greater and greater impact on our lives. It gave my husband and me a vocabulary to use for values and beliefs we already held but didn’t necessarily have words for. There is a classmate who is acting out and annoying you? Well, she doesn’t (yet) have the best interpersonal intelligence, but her bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is strong. A friend is struggling with math? Well, but look how amazing his linguistic intelligence is. MI also impacted how my husband and I experienced our worlds, how we saw the people we worked with, the strangers we interacted with, our friends. It helped us to be more tolerant and understanding. It made living in the world easier. It made us better people.

Our children are now 36, 34 and 30, and we still talk about New City School whenever we are all together, we still use MI vocabulary regularly in our conversations. It is integral to the way we think and to the way we each see the world. We now have a baby granddaughter, and it is important to us all that she is introduced to the idea of multiple intelligences in her life as she is old enough to understand it. She and the other children of former New City students will be the legacy of a beautiful education that teaches everyone has gifts.

Here is an article that speak to MI, “Drawing As A Tool for Learning.” It explains how the spatial intelligence can be a great tool for students. No, that’s not all students, of course, but “not all” applies to every intelligence. That’s why more students can flourish in an MI school, one in which various intelligence pathways are available to students.
Drawing as a Tool for Learning | Edutopia

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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 You can also register for the free, daily ASCD SmartBrief.


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