Tweet When we think of really intelligent people, for some reason we always think of mathematicians or physicists. If you ask people to give an example of someone they think is really intelligent, many would answer "Einstein." But I'm guessing Einstein couldn't write a novel like "Les Miserables" or dance like Rudolph Nureyev or swim like Michael Phelps or paint like Van Gogh or sing like Pavarotti or design a house like Frank Lloyd Wright or act like Tom Hanks. People are all different and all talented, but not talented in the same areas. That's what makes the world a diverse and interesting place.
Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University, saw these differences and developed his theory of multiple intelligences in 1983. Because everyone is different, with different interests, strengths, and learning styles, he proposed a system of measuring intelligence using eight different intelligences rather that just the one traditional IQ score. What he called intelligences are what many previously had called abilities.
These eight intelligences are:
Because of these different learning styles, Gardner felt that it provided teachers with eight different pathways for learning. He felt teachers should present material to students using as many of these learning styles as possible in order to reach as many students as possible.
Let's say, as a teacher, you're presenting a unit on the solar system, you could first present a physical model of the solar system or have the students draw one to scale (visual-spatial). Next have students pretend they're the planets while orbiting another student who represents the Sun, sort of like the Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwich commercial (body-kinesthetic). Third, have students listen to "The Planets" by Holst or compose their own songs (musical). Use social media like Twitter to send notes about the solar system (interpersonal) or have students write a personal blog or diary (intrapersonal). Read about or write poetry about the solar system (verbal-linguistic), study mathematical and scientific formulas related to the solar system (logical-mathematical), and finally, get out a telescope and try to find the visible planets on a clear night (naturalistic). By doing these things, a teacher should be able to reach the learning styles of all their students.
Parents can do the same things for their children. If a teacher hasn't tapped into your child's particular learning style, perhaps you can. Often, teachers simply do not have the time to present every topic in eight different ways. They might hit two or three, and this is where parents can really help. Find ways to supplement your child's learning at home. In the case above, perhaps the teacher does not have access to a telescope, but there might be an observatory or planetarium nearby where the parent could take the child some evening. And with advances in multimedia, it will become easier for parents and teachers to cover all the learning styles of children.
Jimmy Dean commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cepVjHYtG_Y