Multiple Intelligences And Its Impact On English Language Education Essay

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This paper will cover some main ideas about multiple intelligences as put forth by Howard Gardner. I will start with a brief history of Gardner's early years. How and why his parents tried to keep him from any type of risky activity. How they tried to mold him to be an intellectual. Gardner states his life was changed when he studied under Erik Erikson at Harvard University. He became very interested in studying human nature. This led him to research on how people learn. He first came up with seven different intelligences and then added an eighth at a later date. I will then remark about how his research was initially received and how he answered the criticisms. I will explain the eight intelligences and how the teacher in the classroom can use them and how the ELL student can be affected by it.

Howard Gardner's work in 1983 on multiple intelligences has had a heavy impact on thinking and practice in education. Gardner was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1943. In 1938 Gardner's parents and young son Eric, who were Jewish, left Germany as Adolph Hitler's power was getting stronger and the country more anti-semetic. Before Howard's birth Eric, his older brother, was killed in an accident. Even though the flight from Germany and the older brother's death were to become important facts in Howard's life they were not discussed within the family. The parents made sure Howard avoided accidents by not alowing him to do anything that may seem risky. They tried to push him toward learning and not physical play. As Howard grew up he started to become aware of the fact the family was Jewish and why they left Germany. He started to notice that his learning style was different from his friends and family. When it was time for Howard to go to the university he chose Harvard to study law. Eric Erikson became his tutor. In Howard Gardner's words Erikson probably sealed his ambition to be a scholar. The sociologist David Riesman, and cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner were researching human beings. This helped set Gardner on the course of investigating human nature, particularly how human beings think. (Gardner H.,1989)

Gardner viewed intelligences as the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). He reviewed the literature using eight criteria or signs of an intelligence:

Potential isolation by brain damage.

The existence of idiots savants, prodigies and other exceptional individuals.

An identifiable core operation or set of operations.

A distinctive, devolopment history, along with a definable set of end state performances.

An evolutionary history and evolutionary plausibility.

Support from experimental psychological tasks.

Support from psychometric findings.

Susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system. (Howard Gardner 1983)

For the title 'an intelligence' candidates had to qualify criteria including the ability to resolve problems or difficulties within certain settings. The judgements about this could be seen as more of an artistic judgement than of a scientific assessment. Howard Gardner initially formulated a list of seven intelligences. Later he added an eighth one called naturalist intelligence. The first two have been typically valued in schools; the next three are usually associated with the arts; and the final two are what Howard Gardner called personal intelligences (Gardner H. , 1993).

Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the ability to use language to accomplish certain goals. This intelligence includes the use of language to express oneself. This student thinks in words. They prefer reading, writing, telling stories, and playing word games. They will do well and enjoy read alouds, think-pair-share and any type of cooperative teams. Writers, poets, lawyers and speakers are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high linguistic intelligence.

Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. Also the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. This learner is comfortable with experimenting, questioning, and puzzles. They will be effective with graphic organizers, sequence organizers, and Venn Diagrams. They enjoy things to explore and think about like trips to the planetarium and science museums. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.

Musical intelligence involves skills in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It is the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. According to Howard Gardner musical intelligence runs in an almost structural parallel to linguistic intelligence. This type of learner thinks in rhythms and melodies. They enjoy singing, whistling, humming, tapping feet and hands, and listening to music. This student will learn easily if facts can be put to songs or rapping. Musicians, composers, conductors and singers are strong in this intelligence.

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential to use one's whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. This learner will learn easily by using the body. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements. They enjoy dancing, runnning, jumping, building, touching, and gesturing. Some examples of doing this is using role play, drama, movement, things to build, sports and physical games, tactile experiences and hands-on-learning. Howard Gardner sees mental and physical activity as related. Athletes, surgeons, dancers, and carpenters are strong in this intelligence.

Spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas. This learner thinks in images and pictures. They enjoy designing, drawing, visualizing and doodling. In the classroom using visual presentations, art activities, imagination games, mind-mapping, metaphor, using graphs, maps, cameras and visualization will interest this student. Artists, decorators, architects or photographers are strong in this intelligence.

Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the ability to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others. This learner thinks by bouncing ideas off other people. They enjoy leading, organizing, relating, manipulating, mediating and partying. They learn well with cooperative learning, peer tutoring, community involvement, social gatherings, and using board games. Educators, salespeople, religious and political leaders and counsellors all need a well developed interpersonal intelligence.

Intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one's feeling, fears and motivations. In Howard Gardner's view it involves having an effective working model of ourselves, and to be able to use such information to regulate our lives. This learner will set goals, mediate and enjoy being quiet. They will not thrive in a noisy, chaotic classroom. They need time alone and self-paced projects are better suited for them. Individualized instruction, and independent study will appeal to this learner. Theologians, philosophers, psychologists and psychiatrists are people strong in intrapersonal intelligence.

Naturalist intelligence has been added since 1983. The naturalist intelligence enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment. It combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of the role that many cultures value. This learner will enjoy spending time outdoors, sorting, classifying, and noticing patterns. This learner will thrive if they are allowed to grow plants and then collect and classify data. They enjoy creating charts and graphs and logging weather patterns. Many are ecologists, oceanographers, zoologists and forest rangers.

When Gardner's multiple intelligences first came out it appeared to be the opposite of what formal education had been in the past. Many felt it was hard enough to teach one intelligence how would one teach seven? The response to this question was to point that psychology does not directly dictate education, 'it merely helps one to understand the conditions within which education takes place'. Also seven kinds of intelligence would allow seven ways to teach, rather than one (Gardner T. H., 1993). Mindy L. Kornhaber (2001) a researcher involved with Project Zero, has identified a number of reasons why teachers and policymakers in North America have responded positively to Howard Gardners's presentation of multiple intelligencwes. Amoung these are that: the theory validates educators' experience: students think and learn in many different ways. It also provides educators with a conceptual framework for organizing and reflecting on curriculum assessment and pedagogical practices. In turn, this reflection has led many educators to develop new approaches that might better meet the needs of the range of learners in their classrooms.

John White (1997) has argued that there are significant issues around the criteria that Howard Gardner employs. There are quesions around the individual criteris, for example, do all intelligences involve symbol systems; how the criteria to be applied; and why these particular critieria are relevant. In respect of the last, and fundamental quesion, White states that he has not been able to find any answer in Gardner's writings. Indeed, Howard Gardner himself has admitted that there is an element of subjective judgement involved.

Thomas Armstrong (2003) states four key points for educators.

First each student possesses all eight intelligences. Second intelligences can be developed. Third intelligences work together in complex ways. Fourth there are many ways to be intelligent.

Students will become more engaged in learning if the instruction matches their strengths. Also when students become more interested in learning the teacher will raise their expectations. This may start a cycle that may lead to greater achievment for all. Teachers who use multiple intelligences theories strive to present subject matter in ways that use movement, music, the visual arts, cooperative learning, and self-reflection.

One very important consideration is to become aware of your own learning styles. If the teacher is not aware of his own style there is always the risk they will teach only with the style

with which they are most comfortable.. One good way to avoid this is to conduct a professional audit of your teaching style and examine the activities you typically include in your lessons. Another good way is to survey students to determine their intelligence strengths. One way to help them to be self-advocates in their learning is to explain the different styles to them.

Help them become aware how learning can be accomplished in many different ways. The teacher can develop different assessment techniques that addresses the eight intelligences. Enrich your classroom environment with manipulatives, art supplies, musical instruments and other items to engage all intelligences. Provide students with self-directed learning opportunities and independent project work so that they may use their interests and abilites. Provide opportunities for students to enhance their strengths and lessen their weaknessess. Teaching the English language learners that everyone learns in different ways will add to their confidence to explore the new language in a variety of ways.

An example of using multiple intelligence to help Ell students and all students in the area of verbal/linguistic would be to be to give opportunities to read aloud because they are good with words and are very comfortable with this method. Also they love to discus things so using the technique think-pair-share and numbered heads together or cooperative teams will give the linugistic learner the opportunity to use language. The Ell student will benefit from hearing the other more experienced English speakers.

The logical/mathematical learner likes to think in numbers, and patterns, and algorithms. These things just come easily for them. They learn to use abstract symbols. Math comes easily for them. Math is more universal so the ELL student will feel more comfortable with it.

The visual/spatial learner will lean more with the fine arts. These learners think more in pictures. Drawing a picture or a visual organizer would appeal to them. Drawing pictures about a story them labeling it is just one example of an assignment for a visual learner. Drawing is more universal also and would come easily to the ELL student.

Musical/Rhythmic learner will learn easier if the teacher can put the information in a music or rap form. A rythm about the months of the year or a chant about the planets in the solar system will be one way this learner will excel. Any lesson with song will come easily to the ELL student who is strong in this intelligence.

Interpersonal intelligence are the students that find it very easy to talk to others. Many times these students will be the leaders and organizers of the class. The type of lessons they will excel at are public speaking and any type of cooperative learning project. The ELL student who is strong in this intelligence will thrive in cooperative learning groups.

Intrapersonal learners are the learners that enjoy learning and thinking on their own. Many people will describe them as the deep thinkers. They will excel when given projects to do alone and require some analyses about people or ideas. The ELL student who is strong in this intelligence will feel more comfortable with projects he can do alone.

Bodily/kinesthetic learners need movement. Any type of activity where they can move around or use their hands will come easily to them. The ELL student will feel comfortable using a skit to explain a story or using a pantomine to explain the life cycle of a frog will appeal to these learners.

Naturalist learner are learners that are very aware of their surroundings and what is going on around them. They are very good at observing everything. These learners will enjoy science particularly biology. The ELL student will enjoy any assignment about the world of nature that would involve sorting or classifying or reading about weather, pets, and recycling.

The ELL student and the regular education student will both benefit from a teacher who recognizes that students learn differently and apply it. I have often observed a classroom of a colleague that seems to me very noisy and chaotic. She claims the kids are learning and also having fun. I walk away and think to myself if I had to be in that room I think I would have a nervous breakdown. I obviously have a very different learning style than she does. The solution would be to have some of both. To do that the teacher must vary the lessons and try and hit on as many different intelligences as she can and if possible allow the students to choose an activity for the assignment.

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