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Learning in a Kaleidoscope

kgould's picture

 Teaching in a Kaleidoscope

Multiple Intelligence Theory in the Classroom

MI Theory

Break into five groups.

We will assign your group's "style" of intelligence and hand out any necessary materials.

Each group will explain "Intelligence" through their given activity:

Word Smart Write a poem or short story (Linguistic)
Music Smart Write a song, rap, or use rhythm (Musical)
Picture Smart Illustrate "Intelligence" (Spatial)
Logic Smart Write a formula, design an experiment, or use analogies (Logical/Mathematical)
Body Smart Perform a skit or dance (Bodily/Kinesthetic)


Groups will present and then we will regroup as a class to discuss the presentations and the following:

What is Intelligence?

--Can it be Measured and, if so, How?

Is it Testable?

Pros and Cons of IQ Testing

Is Intelligence a Singular or Plural entity?

--Downsides to and problems with Multiple Intelligence Theory

Application in the classroom, feasible or no? 



LinKai_Jiang's picture

Are crazy people intelligent?

The Multiple Intelligence theory opens up doors to radically reconsider what human intelligence is. Isn't intelligence what we humans do? To be more precise, intelligence is whatever humans can do well. I'm talking specifically about positive abilities. For example, the ability to ignore people and things is a negative ability. Although one can do it really well, it is not because one does something but rather one fails to do something. In terms of positive ability and conceiving human intelligence broadly, if one can count the number of sand, taste very minute flavors, or see words in colors then one can be said to be intelligent in that area. Are crazy people intelligent then: People who see things we do not normally see and feel emotions we do not normally feel? After all, they do what they do better than many other people.   

Paul Grobstein's picture

Multiple intelligences and ...

A number of interesting issues got raised during the session and subsequent discussion, among them ...

people person skills are soo important, and i am sure that we all know people who are incredibly good with people and perhaps not as good at other things... what part of the brain controls that? how can we cultivate people-skills? why don't we learn them explicitly in school? ... simonec    (see The Brain and Social Organization/Culture and Social Cognition and the Bipartite Brain

What about the person who is good at everything as opposed to person who is not really good at anything?  We briefly touched on this in class, but it seems like multiple intelligence is clearly a step forward from IQ testing, but not even close to an end solution ... FinnWing

In our experiment in co-constructive inquiry mode, its also worth thinking abit about the session itself.  What worked?  What didn't?  Kate's reflection:

Running a classroom is hard. While we were able to broach several of the issues and topics that we had laid out for discussion, it still felt like we hadn't really unpacked the pros and cons of Multiple Intelligence Theory being used in the classroom. That said, I think we started a great conversation about what "intelligence" is, and whether or not it overlaps with "ability," particularly in the light of Gardner's MI work. We used hands-on activities to explore Multiple Intelligences which, I think, was fun--we were able to follow up with the more typical lecture/discussion format. While everyone worked on their own brand of intelligence (Musical, Linguistic, etc), everyone thought about what constitutes intelligence and ability: the ability to learn, the ways in which we learn, what it means to "know" something-- we weren't able to explore everything in full, but we started a conversation that I hope will continue in the future.

Roy Nelson's picture

To take a specific group... London cabbies...

There was a newsflash about how London cabbies brains differed, from "normal" people, in that they had to learn these routes through the maze that is London... (it is also referred to in the article below) and how this can learning actually physically modified their brains! and now to tie up with what you guys were doing with maps... someone mentioned the changed GPS might bring into play... now today I was reading this...

How it all meshes together, the brain internally uses maps/template and maps of templates it seems (I won't bore you with another link)... but it all reminds me of Mandelbrot, fractals (and Godel as he used a mapping mechanism for his famous proof)... I find it strangely exhilirating to think that this simple mapping principle is so powerful and so deeply engrained in our natures...

epeck's picture

When we split into groups it

When we split into groups it seems that most of the groups interpreted "x intelligence" as an ability to understand knowledge through "x" means.  So for my group, musical intelligence, we talked about understanding material through music or rhythm.  I was thinking about it this weekend and wouldn't musical intelligence be more like having a real talent for music, just as picture smart might manifest itself through an ability for art or composition?  But, if intelligence is the affinity for a skill, isn't it ability?  We touched on the idea that there might be a difference between intelligence and ability, but I'm not sure what the main difference is (maybe something about one being inborn...but it feels like both are...).  Then again, maybe there is no difference...

ellenv's picture


 I really do think that there is a lot of overlap between intelligence and ability and sometime they are one in the same under Gardner's definition of intelligence. I think that both intelligence and ability can be be "worked on" in the sense that one can develop both to some extent, but there is also a certain level of difference between people simply in how well they perform such tasks (which is probably why it can also be argued that they are actually abilities). I wonder whether or not one label over the other would influence how they are applied/used in the classroom. If it was labeled as an ability rather than an intelligence then would teachers be more likely to downplay the differences?

D2B's picture

measuring the multiple intelligences

I realized instantly once we dispersed into groups to begin working on presenting a certain intelligence, upon instruction and natural inclination, we began to interpret and express the intelligences tangibly. It is understandable that when something is made tangible, it is easier to understand but if we speak of intelligence as an abstract concept then we cannot measure it tangibly but must look at it from an abstract view. Likewise, if we believe intelligence to be accurately measurable, such activities like drawing a picture to represent picture/spatial intelligence or performing a skit to represent body/kinesthetic intelligence would be adequate. To mix-n-match the two, would run us directly into the issue we attempt to tackle in the first place, whether intelligence is measurable. That being said, intelligence itself must be tackled as a concept and through comprehension and definition the question as to whether it can be measured will have it's answer. Or will it haha?

L Cubed's picture

Measuring and Valuing Intelligences

I agree that the task of measuring intelligence is in making it tangible which is sort of what this idea of seven intelligences does. I think the problem though is the value that society places on each of these intelligences- I am using intelligence to be synonymous with ability.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of measuring intelligence is standardized testing. The success and failure of our education system and its students is primarily and heavily determined through the use of standardized tests. While I have always thought these tests to be inadequate in measuring intelligence, also wondering if intelligence is something that is even measurable, further thought has caused me to think otherwise. I do think that these tests measure AN INTELLIGENCE in that they measure a person's ability to quickly process and respond to a set of given information.  This standardized component makes these tests bias toward that particular intelligence, deeming it the only meausre of success.... But what about those students who simply  require a little bit more time to process information? Are they not capable of being successful?......Why do we value this robotic form of intelligence? 

FinnWing's picture

Overlappinng multiple intelligences

  What about the person who is good at everything as opposed to person who is not really good at anything?  We briefly touched on this in class, but it seems like multiple intelligence is clearly a step forward from IQ testing, but not even close to an end solution.

  In order to build on the multiple intelligence theory, I thought I would throw out emotional intelligence as a crucial form intelligence that is very beneficial to the individual as well as the group.  Daniel Goleman wrote a book about this topic in his aptly named 1995 book Emotional Intelligence.   I will define it as the ability to use one's own emotions, and the emotions of others, to learn and understand the world better.  This form is very crucial in education because of how intricately linked learning and emotion are, as shown in We feel, therefore we learn....  Anyway, any thoughts on other intelligences, or whether or not emotional intelligence deserves some props?  

Evren's picture

one summer i did a two week

one summer i did a two week teaching program and one of the days was entirely devoted to multiple intelligences. we took various tests that told us not only which our "strongest" multiple intelligence was, but demonstrated how strong we were in each intelligence. each intelligence had a grade from 1 to 10 (10 being the strongest) so someone could score a 9 on intrapersonal intelligence, a 4 on interpersonal, a 6 on spatial, an 8 on logic etc. the point was that we all share these intelligences to some degree, with differing strengths and weaknesses. i wish i remember more because it would be interesting to see if, for example, there's a strong correlation between high intrapersonal and logic intelligences.

skindeep's picture

i wonder...

i definitely think that emotional intelligence is important, but i can't help but wonder - doesn't it overlap with being people smart? in fact, don't all/most of the intelligences overlap with each other in some way or another?

in the ninth grade i thought that i could fuse physics with philosophy, and all my friends told me that i was crazy, because ones a rigid science and the others more floaty (not held in something solid), but i wonder if that's true at all.. the more  you look at things that we compartmentalize, the more similar they seem to be.

eledford's picture

Those who seem to be "good at

Those who seem to be "good at everything" do in fact have a dynamic - in other words, they ARE better at some things than other so I don't really see how one can learn equally through all modes presented in the kaleidoscope theory.

Also, I think it's important to note that children see through the lens' of their parents (or whoever they are around the most and learning from); it is possible that we learned in ways based on how our parents explored the world when we were young? or how they instilled in us ways to explore the world?

simonec's picture


I agree! people person skills are soo important, and i am sure that we all know people who are incredibly good with people and perhaps not as good at other things... what part of the brain controls that? how can we cultivate people-skills? why don't we learn them explicitly in school? 

Angela DiGioia's picture

Can "People Skills" Be Taught?

This is an interesting thread.  I, too, always wonder what "book" smart vs. "street" smart means in practice and how those types of characterizations translate to what processes are going on in our brains.  I would guess that "street" smart is a more intangible type of knowledge that is attained and realized through practice, say through interacting brains, and reflective thinking (linking Loops 1,2,and 3).  Although "book" smart is a type of knowledge that can be taught in a classroom, I believe that it's reinforced and enriched by the type of interactions that build "street" smart.  Are intelligent people (I would define intelligent as someone who is able to think critically to construct a thoughtful response to a question as well as to ask thought-provoking questions of others) able to use their "street" knowledge to  enable the development of new and deeper knowledge? 

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