Garner’s 8 ways to make learning motivating and challenging…

“My mind was really opened when I went to Harvard College and had the opportunity to study under individuals—such as psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, sociologist David Riesman, and cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner—who were creating knowledge about human beings. That helped set me on the course of investigating human nature, particularly how human beings think. (Howard Gardner quoted by Marge Sherer 1999)”
Gardner's 8 Intelligences

I recently came across an article about Howard Gardner’s theories on Multiple Intelligences. Being a lecturer and facilitator, I am always looking for new ways to teach and motivate my students in creative ways.  Gardner’s theories are not new, as you may know the first book by this Harvard psychologist about his ideas about intelligence and creativity was Frames of Mind written in 1983 and then Multiple Intelligences in 1999. But they are still relevant, in that, as classrooms get larger, teachers are becoming more distant from their students than ever before.

I read recently that in France, due to the lack of funding in some universities, students taking lectures in the afternoon, would be listening to a tape recording of the lecture given in the morning… this is OK if you are a “listener” but if you are “Visual-spatial (see below) the lecture would be far less motivating.

We all know that children, students and adults learn in different ways. So we need to know how to tap into the best way to make them be motivated enough to learn.

Effective teachers know that students’ learning is improved when their interests, talents, and needs are taken into account. This can be difficult in larger classes where you need to tune into 50 heads at the same time. This can also be difficult when you are giving workshops over short periods of time. There are many techniques of tapping into the students mindset, NLP being one of the most effective in terms of speed, but us teachers must make learning relevant for all students, and so we need to address their differing ways of learning by using many techniques during a particular lecture or course in order to interest them in the subject we are teaching.

When effective teachers provide students with activities that are fun and meaningful, students’ are able to use their higher order thinking skills through the use of multiple intelligences.  Howard Gardner presents a definition of human intelligence by using three characteristics in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The three characteristics are:

– being able to solve life’s problems,

– being able to create a product or offer a service and

– recognizing or creating problems.

There are twelve principles that are based upon Howard Gardner’s theory and he has identified eight multiple intelligences which are beneficial for teachers so that they can reach every student.

The first intelligence is linguistic, which is the ability to use language and communicate either orally or in writing to make sense of the world.  Linguistic students are those who are stimulated and excited about language.  They enjoy story telling and word games.

The second intelligence is logical-mathematical, which is the “ability to reason and calculate” and “the ability to use mathematics” and science.  Logical-mathematical students are comfortable with numbers, patterns, categories, relationships, and reasoning.  These students would enjoy more left-brained activities relating to who statistics and analysing situations.

The third intelligence is visual-spatial, which is the ability to visualize mental pictures and recreate them in one’s mind using colors, lines, shapes, forms, and space . Visual-spatial students would rather read charts or visual materials, look at images or pictures rather than words.

The fourth intelligence is musical, which is the ability to comprehend or create music and understand meanings of sound using rhythm, pitch, melody, or timbre.   A musical student might be tapping his desk, making a rhythm or humming to himself.

The fifth intelligence is bodily-kinesthetic, which is the ability to use one’s body to communicate and solve problems. Bodily-kinesthetic students are able to express their feelings and ideas by using their body and skillfully handle objects   A student who loves physical education or one that would rather do a project instead of a worksheet has this intelligence.

The sixth intelligence is interpersonal, which is the ability to work with others in a group and recognize other’s feelings, moods, and motivations. Interpersonal learners are able to relate to other individuals.   These students are the ones who work best in a group and relate well to others.

The seventh intelligence is intrapersonal, which is the ability to “know one’s strengths and weaknesses” and know one’s own feelings. Intrapersonal students relate to themselves and focus on themselves.  Intrapersonal students prefer to work alone rather than in a group.

The eighth intelligence is naturalist, which is the ability to “make other consequential distinctions in the natural world and to use this ability productively”.  Naturalist intelligence is also described by Gardner as “the human ability to solve problems”.  Naturalists relate to the world around them.

A ninth intelligence, spiritual, was identified, but was changed to “moral” and then left as a part of naturalist intelligence.

Gardner states that using multiple intelligences influences students to use skills that are valued in places other than the school.  Second, using multiple intelligences requires that teachers teach higher order thinking rather than wrote memorization.

Teaching strategies which ensure that all of the intelligences are accommodated ensure that education is relative to all students.

What learning strategies do you put into place to ensure that everyone is engaged?Please share them with Créativité’s blog followers.


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