Educational Theory, Recent + Research-Based

Gardner-ing Multiple Intelligences

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This week, I’m inspired by Howard Gardner, and in my pursuit of all things multiple intelligences, I listened to his TEDTalk from 2015 “Beyond Wit and Grit: Rethinking the Keys to Success.” Working in expeditionary schools, I’ve heard quite a bit about grit as a desired character trait, and wit, which Gardner uses in this talk to refer to multiple intelligences.
The overall theme of his talk was to look beyond possessing traits (a particular intelligence style or propensity, or a character trait like grit, in this case) to the application of these. Gardner makes some compelling observations, such as that Hitler had a lot of grit, as did Nelson Mandela. Fair point. Likewise, with multiple intelligences, he states that his research never indicated a hierarchy of intelligence– rather that a rainbow of intelligences exist, and we ought to use this diversity to guide our interactions accordingly.
Gardner’s talk brings up some thoughts for me, particularly now that “community curriculum” is gaining some traction:

  • What is our responsibility as educators when it comes to helping students identify themselves (whether through multiple intelligences, character traits, leadership styles, etc.)?
  • Is it merely enough to simply have students identify these? Or might we even be causing some shallow or deep psychological damage by not following through with a more cohesive way in which students can leverage their learning style?
  • How do we teach application of learning styles?

Ultimately, I agree that, like most things, it is not enough merely to introduce students to a concept– there must be substantial follow-through. I’m curious to hear from schools who have adopted a community curriculum what the teacher training or coaching may look like, as well as what the student guidance looks like following.

[Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash]