Engaging Minds with Multiple Intelligences - Steering towards a successful future

Arti Chopra | Principal, Amity International School, Gurgaon

Arti Chopra is a dedicated educationist with over 28 years of experience in the field of education as a teacher, mentor, trainer, planner and skill developer. She is an alumnus of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University and has had been associated with leading institutions like Bal Bharti Public School, Delhi; Sawai Man Singh Vidyalaya, Jaipur and Lawrence School, Ooty in her career. Besides her teaching experience of 15 years in the field of education, Arti has administrative experience of 15 years as Principal in promising schools like Sunbeam School, Varanasi, Indraprastha International School, New Delhi and presently at Amity International School, Sector 46, Gurgaon.

Arti has received multiple awards for her contribution to the field of education. Excellence Award by SGT University, Inspiring Educator Award by Outdoor Education Research Team of Great Rocksport Pvt. Ltd., Outstanding Educator Award by Ansal University, Gurgaon, Group Challenge Class Hack Award by Microsoft at E2 Educator Exchange conference held at Hungary are some of them.

 

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.” ― Isaac Asimov Do you as a parent wish your child to be intelligent and crack the problems with ease? Does it bother you when you see the falling grades in the child’s reports? But have you realised that the reports shown were reflections of only a limited aspect of a child’s personality and the belief that single tests may measure Intelligence Quotient is only a thing of the past? Yes, we do need to look at intelligence with a new perspective, keeping creative problem solving in mind. The world through research has recognized and made attempts to understand the complexities of the human brain, and the notion of IQ, what it really means, and how it is most accurately captured. If we could understand the kinds of mind the children possess and provide a guided trajectory of multiple ways of engagement, their assessments would entail far better results, in terms of cognitive, social, psycho-motor & physical ability. Human species, the most astonishing creation of this universe, is known to have lived from its instincts. A novel way to engage minds that recognizes a child’s own interests is the unique concept given by Prof Howard Gardner that has reached out to the world through his book named Frames of Mind (1993). The theory of Multiple Intelligences is based on the premise that we no longer should evaluate a child just based on his numeric/ language ability, rather there are eight skill avenues if worked upon, that could lead to child’s development, as the theory allows a child to exercise his/her fullest potential. In his 1993 publication, Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice, Gardner defines intelligences as “the ability to find and solve problems, or to fashion products, that are valued in one or more cultural or community settings. Originally Howard Gardner of Harvard University, identified seven distinct intelligences. According to Gardner, this theory, which emerged from cognitive research, "documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways." Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid. Every individual is born with a variety of talents and unlimited capacities. According to Gardener the way One shoe cannot fit all, similarly, every child cannot be assessed on the same parameters. His theory validates educators’ everyday 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.


In greater detail, the theory proposes that "we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences and the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems and progress in various domains." Howard Gardner, the Harvard professor who originally proposed the theory, says that there are multiple types of human intelligence, each representing different ways of processing information: • Verbal-linguistic intelligence refers to an individual's ability to analyze information and produce work that involves oral and written language, such as speeches, books, and emails. • Logical-mathematical intelligence describes the ability to develop equations and proofs, make calculations, and solve abstract problems. • Visual-spatial intelligence allows people to comprehend maps and other types of graphical information. • Musical intelligence enables individuals to produce and make meaning of different types of sound. • Naturalistic intelligence refers to the ability to identify and distinguish among different types of plants, animals, and weather formations found in the natural world. • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails using one's own body to create products or solve problems. • Interpersonal intelligence reflects an ability to recognize and understand other people's moods, desires, motivations, and intentions. • Intrapersonal intelligence refers to people's ability to recognize and assess those same characteristics within themselves. Hani Morgan (2014) supports Gardner's theory. Morgan's research indicated that differentiated instruction benefits all students, but must be presented by well-prepared, experience and knowledgeable teachers. Keeping all these workable strategies in mind, teachers across the world have accepted this theory and have embraced it . A lot of work has been done in this direction as it opened up diverse learning possibilities with visible outcomes. I In one of the research study done on 'The correlation of multiple intelligences for the achievements of secondary students', by Department of Psychology, Iran done in November, 2015; Multiple intelligences such as logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal and naturalistic have a significant positive relationship with academic performance achievement of students. ( https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1091511.pdf) 1-There is a statistically significant relationship between the multiple intelligences and the academic performance achievement levels of high school students of Bandar Abbas. 2- The multiple intelligences act as the predicator of the academic performance achievement levels of high school students of Bandar Abbas. II In another survey done by Procedia, on relation between the amount of multiple intelligences (Gardner) and entrepreneurship sense among university students in general, there is a positive and significant relation between multiple intelligences and Entrepreneurship sense of study population students (https://www.sciencedirect.com › science › article › pii › pdf) III In an Investigation between Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles, conducted by University of Turkey in 2018, the relationship between multiple intelligences types and learning styles was investigated. The results showed that mostly they were found to be tactile and auditory learners, and three intelligence groups: Naturalistic, Visual and Kinesthetic intelligences types received the highest score. ( https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1170867.pdf ) RATIONALE OF THE PROCESS/STUDY The real working of this strategy is quite simple. It only entails identifying the Multiple Intelligences an individual is naturally endowed with, by taking a test and analyzing the results. Once the results are plotted, it becomes easy to decipher the Dominant ( the highest/most blessed), and Dormant(lowest/least blessed) out of the eight intelligences. In a classroom with an average number of students varying between 20-32, it becomes easier for a teacher to provide a personalized learning experience to the students, with the prior knowledge about the student’s strengths and weaknesses. The classroom teaching-learning pedagogy must have a variety of teaching alternatives so as to make learners comfortable with the lesson taught. For example, a child who is predominantly kinesthetically inclined, may not find a class of algebraic formulas interesting unless there is a hands-on experience. Similarly, a teacher’s efforts to give a graphical projection of linear equation to reach out to a child inclined towards visual-spatial intelligence, or to organize a nature walk to study parts of flower to make it interesting for a child predominantly a nature lover, are simply to recognize the aim of education. Synchronized efforts need to be made in planning a lesson on the pedagogy front, so as to ensure eight diverse ways of reaching out to the learner, an effort termed as MI lesson planning. MI profiling of the students done at the beginning of an academic calendar usually gives year-long direction to the faculty to understand their students better. Moreover, on one hand, continuous efforts can be made to incorporate as many MI’s as possible in lesson planning, on the other hand, specialized efforts to focus on Dormant Intelligences, by studying the results of test of MI, could also bring good results. In the competitive world where we all live today, there are overall global changes like migration, women empowerment and other socio economic changes etc that has led to an increased expectation the parents have from themselves and from their children. In such a scenario, every parent wants his/her child to be an avid reader, a go-getter on social front, an academician par excellence, a sports achiever and a quizzing wizard too. The challenge the schools of this century face is, how to continuously enhance results, as there is no such formula that could increase the success rate in a short span of time. The theory of Multiple Intelligences provides solution to educators that if there is constant reinforcement on the child’s cognitive, social, psychomotor, physical and emotional domains, by practicing Multiple Intelligences in a strategic manner, holistic development of students could be augmented. Personally, as an educator, I have been using Multiple Intelligences in my classrooms from the year 1999 itself, as a teacher and found good results. As an administrator from the year 2004, I felt once the concept was explained to the teachers in junior school, (5-10 years), active engagements of students could be done with Multiple Intelligences. In the middle school (grade 5 to 8) incorporation of Multiple Intelligences in the lesson planning itself through constant motivation and reinforcements, entailed good results. The premise has been simple: Identify their learning styles and natural inclination towards particular skills and then teach them in the way they wish to learn, to have a long-lasting impact. Also be aware of their dormant intelligences, an indirect conscious impact, may help the child to come to address his fears and turn them into joys. https://artichopra.blogspot.com/2019/12/project-mi.html.

Last five years, I have set up an MI Wonder Laboratory in my school wherein students come as per their timetable and efforts are made to enhance their learning experiences. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fge7iDTtis0 ).


A simple test is performed on those studying in grade 3 & 4 ( 7-9 years)whereas for grade 1&2 (5-7 years) observations based on their behavior and likings are mapped. According to a recent study done in my school in grade 1-4 in the session 2019-20, the following results have been obtained: ( https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xUuy6NqUHE21bnGdZJ4d2WwAErQ-bXhJ/view?u...) Grade 1 student’s dominant intelligence were Visual Spatial and Linguistics Grade 2's Dominant intelligences were Naturalistic and Logical In Grade 3, Dominant intelligences were Naturalistic & Visual Spatial In Grade 4, Dominant intelligences were Bodily Kinesthetics and Linguistics In grade 1, the emerging Dormant Intelligences were linguistics, interpersonal and intrapersonal Grade 2 student’s Dormant Intelligences were Interpersonal & Intrapersonal In grade 3, the Dormant Intelligences were Musical & Linguistic In grade 4 the Dormant Intelligences were Musical & Interpersonal Based on these results, the teachers teaching these classes were able to reflect upon their styles of teaching and the skewness towards a particular intelligence, reflected how interesting certain subjects were made. It automatically helped them to shape up their lesson designs in a manner to reach out to all eight intelligences. Seeing the powerful impact the concept has on the results, I have linked the multiple intelligences to life skills, so essential for the balanced growth of students in my journal called ‘MI Skills for My life’ available on Amazon. Designed for the students who are 10 years and above, the book has well-designed assessments, that set clear expectations, establish a reasonable workload, and provide opportunities for students to self-monitor, rehearse, practice, and receive feedback. Assessments enhance student engagement and motivation, particularly... when it incorporates interaction with teachers, other students, and a range of resources; in a bid to acquire life skills. In this era of thought leadership, Prof. Howard Gardner, has given a great solution to make education an enriching experience through the theory of Multiple Intelligences. Its application in our classrooms can entail great results and make learning joyful and enriching.