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Multiple Intelligence & Educator


The attraction of the theory of multiple intelligences has been taken up by so many educators because of two powerful lures:

First is that, when viewed through a multiple intelligences lens, more children succeed. Put another way, when teachers offer different pathways for students to learn, rather than just filtering all information and learning through traditional scholastic processes, more students succeed. Multiple intelligences are not a panacea (solution or cure); direct instruction and remembering facts have their place in school. That said, as a multiple intelligences approach is child-centered, educators begin by first looking at how a child learns; then, on the basis of this information, they work to develop curriculum, instruction, and assessment. (Conversely, in most schools, a curriculum-centered approach is used as educators ‘bend’ the students to fit the curriculum.) Intuitively, of course, most of us understand that children learn in different ways. After all, as adults, we still learn differently. Thus we see multiple intelligences as a tool to help us reach more children as we become better educators.

A second feature of multiple intelligences, though one which may not be as obvious, is that using multiple intelligences transforms the role of the teacher. In traditional schools, teachers typically rely so much on text books and other mandated curriculum materials that understanding is often sacrificed to ‘covering the course’. In these situations, the name of the game is to score well on standardized tests---period. Naturally, materials are purchased which prepare students for the tests; the closer the match between the curriculum and what is tested, the better the curriculum. Aside from the considerable losses to students, this approach also takes a heavy toll on teachers. How much fun can it be to read from a script all day? What's the message to us about our competencies when everything is set out and predetermined by a faraway publisher?

Most teachers who opt for education do so because they like working with children and playing a formative role in a child's growth. They also enjoy being creative, being on stage, using their talents, and, most of all, being a problem solver tasking themselves to find out a way to reach every child. At the end of each day, when a teacher comes home physically tired and emotionally drained (an everyday occurrence), satisfaction comes not from reflecting on how many workbook pages were covered or how well the teacher's guide was followed. The satisfaction of being a professional educator stems from the knowledge that you've made a difference in a child's life. It comes from knowing that one has brought one’s curricular expertise, knowledge of pedagogy and understanding of child development together to reach your students. Multiple Intelligences allow teachers to do just that.

When curriculum, instruction, assessment, and pedagogy are viewed through a multiple intelligences perspective, there are many ways for student to learn. When Multiple Intelligences are the palette, the teacher relies on her wisdom to find the right brush and the right colours to make learning meaningful.

In a Multiple Intelligences surrounding, not only are students more likely to learn and teachers more likely to bring their creativity to the fore, but other opportunities often present themselves. Viewing intelligences as multidimensional and understanding that all children have many different talents changes faculty discourse and increases cooperation. Faculty and committee meetings can move from reiterations of information to discussions about learning and student growth. Teaching can change from something that is done by individual teachers to a collaborative, collegial endeavour in which the entire faculty works and grows together. This philosophy of believing in multiple intelligences really is a philosophy of education) that enables teachers to change the dialogue with students' parents, in both what is discussed and how it is discussed.