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Learning Styles

Multiple Intelligence

Prenatal development is one of the most significant segments of our development. It is an extraordinary process to learn and acknowledge because it emphasizes the many aspects that most people commonly overlook. This information directly relates to our self–understanding, the mother who bore us, and the various joys and difficulties associated in the course of our nine month internal development.

Table 1. Howard Gardner's eight intelligences and possible additional intelligences.

Verbal–Linguistic The proficient use of language (structure, meaning) – word smart.
Logical–Mathematical The use number patterns and logical thinking to solve math problems – number smart.
Visual–Spatial The ability to perceive the world in pictures rather than in words – picture smart.
Musical–Rhythmic The ability to express and transform music – music smart.
Bodily–Kinesthetic The use of one's body to express ideas and feeling – body smart.
Interpersonal The ability to interact effectively and form relationships with other – people smart.
Intrapersonal The ability to understand one's inner feelings, dreams, and ideas – self smart.
Naturalist A person who appreciates the beauty of the natural world and is sensitive to the environment – nature smart.
Existential The "intelligence of big questions" or ultimate issues.
Spiritual An appreciation for religion and the spiritual world.

The theory of multiple intelligence has greatly transformed the way schools were once run. According to Gardner's theory, everyone possesses all eight of these intelligences (Auger & Rich, 2007). Regardless of how little one intelligence is expressed in comparison to another, a student still has the potential to improve where he/she is underdeveloped. Unfortunately, many students who are gifted in areas of art, design, nature, or gym do not receive much reinforcement by teachers, who mainly focus most of their lesson plans on linguistic and logical–mathematical thinking. In fact, many of these students end up being labeled "learning disabled," "A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder)," or simply underachievers, when their unique ways of thinking and learning are not addressed by a heavily linguistic or logical–mathematical classroom (Armstrong, 2000). Furthermore, it is natural for most people to develop a greater use in two or intelligences (Auger & Rich, 2007). For instance, a logical thinker who enjoys solving math problems may also possess a heightened level of visual–spatial skills, where they like to draw or make artistic graphic designs on the computer. Moreover, the eight intelligences constantly interact with each other (Auger & Rich, 2007). In order to solve an intricate math problem, a person needs to be able to reason with oneself by talking it out stepwise using intrapersonal intelligence, in order to solve the problem effectively. Finally, it has also been noted that people demonstrate their abilities of these intelligences in different ways. A student who possesses bodily–kinesthetic intelligences may enjoy playing sports during physical education, but may not appreciate learning how to dance.

"As we start a new school year, Mr. Smith, I Just want you to know I'm an abstract–sequential learner and trust that you'll conduct yourself accordingly!"

Figure 1. A cartoon depicting a student confronting her teacher to take into account her preferred intelligence type.

An educator must be able to provide students with eight different potential pathways to learning (Armstrong, 2000). This concept pertains to all educators, especially kindergarten, elementary school, and secondary school teachers who are looking for better ways to present classroom material in order to increase each student's learning capabilities. Although it is difficult to connect all eight of Gardner's intelligences into one lesson, an educator must be prepared to briefly touch upon several of them, even if there is little relation to the subject. For example, if a grade nine geography teacher is teaching about social discrimination in a specific part of the world, the teacher may want to have his/her students read about in their textbook (linguistic); study the population growth/decrease of the location using numbers or mathematic formulas to quantity the changes in numbers (logical–mathematical); examine charts, pictures, or graphs to illustrate the problem (visual–spatial); talk about the population's culture, such as any known customs or traditions (this can fit under music or spirituality, depending on the culture); have students write a self–reflection based on how they would feel if they were being discriminated (intrapersonal); and/or have students sit into small groups to discuss the issue on a global scale (existential) to perform a skit or write song suggesting a possible solution (bodily–kinesthetic and musical–rhythmic). It is very important for all educators to brainstorm these ideas before actually planning the lesson. This way, lessons can be directed in a particular pathway that will interest all students equally and go beyond the conventional verbal–linguistic and logical–mathematical intelligences solely emphasized in the past.