Mark Kilcoyne's blog

2 minutes reading time (356 words)

Multiple Intelligences is not the same as "Learning Styles."


book1Howard Gardner, the man who coined the term "Multiple Intelligences" states that Multiple intelligences are not the same as learning styles and takes issue with the confusion. Many years ago (15+) I noticed Gardner's research and recognized its importance in teaching children. Often learning styles and Multiple Intelligences would be used in conjunction with one another. I've done that multiple times. I developed our entire Sunday School rotations around the ideas of Multiple Intelligences. Our Bible Discovery zones were all about teaching God's Word through multiple intelligences. It was and still can be an incredible adventure.

About 5 years ago I questioned labeling learning styles for children. I recognize that people have various favorite ways of learning. However, I think labeling it "learning styles" causes confusion and doesn't recognize how the brain processes information in connection with other senses. I noticed this after brain surgery. I noticed how much my spacial awareness was influenced by noise and my ability to hear. My senses worked in harmony with one another. By removing one sense I realized its interconnectedness. In my case brain surgery severed my auditory nerve in one ear and my balance nerve. Suddenly, I couldn't walk and I didn't know where the noise was coming from.

Just recently I came across an article written by Howard Gardner. They reprinted it in the Washington Post in 2013. In the short article, Gardner explains how Multiple Intelligences is not "learning styles," and that we should not use term learning styles because it causes confusion and there is not sufficient evidence it helps teachers or students.

Gardner gives three primary takeaways for educators. They are:

"1. Individualize your teaching as much as possible. Instead of “one size fits all,” learn as much as you can about each student, and teach each person in ways that they find comfortable and learn effectively. Of course this is easier to accomplish with smaller classes. But ‘apps’ make it possible to individualize for everyone.

2. Pluralize your teaching. Teach important materials in several ways, not just one (e.g. through stories, works of art, diagrams, role play). In this way, you can reach students who learn in different ways. Also, by presenting materials in various ways, you convey what it means to understand something well. If you can only teach in one way, your own understanding is likely to be thin.

3. Drop the term “styles.” It will confuse others and it won’t help either you or your students."

The article is worth reading. It is short and will make you think about how you teach.

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Saturday, 29 February 2020