Are you a parent who is passionate about learning? Do you want your children to enjoy school and find success IN and OUT of the classroom?
Then welcome to Learn Their Way!
In this week’s episode, we’ll discuss the theory of multiple intelligences.
Growing up, I believed there was just one “right” way to be smart. These days, we know that’s wrong.
In this episode of Learn Their Way, we’re going to discuss Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. By learning more about this framework, we can nurture our children’s strengths and help them develop their weaker areas.
- Edutopia.org article about multiple intelligences
- You’re Smarter Than You Think by Thomas Armstrong Ph.D (affiliate link)
- Smarts! Everybody’s Got Them by Thomas Armstrong Ph.D (affiliate link)
EPISODE 9 TRANSCRIPT:
Welcome to the Learn Their Way podcast, where we teach strategies designed to help students understand how they learn best and find success in and out of the classroom.
I’m your host, Melissa Droegemueller, and in this episode, we’ll discuss the theory of multiple intelligences by Dr. Howard Gardner.
Welcome back to episode 9, Multiple Intelligences.
Well, hello! Welcome back to episode 9, Multiple Intelligences.
In our last episode, we talked a bit about the Myers-Briggs personality framework and how our child’s unique tendencies can impact their learning journey.
This week, I’d like to discuss another framework: multiple intelligences, an educational theory proposed by Dr. Howard Gardner nearly 40 years ago.
Dr. Gardner suggests there are 8 different ways that humans can experience intelligence:
(And there may still be others that haven’t been discovered or explored more…yet.)
What I love most about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is that we are all smart in different ways. And we can cultivate those different techniques of learning throughout our lives.
Growing up, I believed there was just one “right” way to be smart. I wish I had known about multiple intelligences as a child and during my years as a classroom teacher.
In fact, I didn’t discover the theory until I was in my 30s when I stumbled across a book called You’re Smarter Than You Think at the public library. I pored over the chapters again and again, until I finally purchased a copy myself.
The book is written for a middle grade audience. And even though I read it as an adult, it gave me new insights into who I was a child and who I could have been with a bit of support from the teachers in my life.
As an introverted (people-pleasing) bookish child in the 80s, I had an ideal personality for public school. I was neat, polite, and quiet. I instinctively knew how to be successful in the classroom, and I only remember getting in trouble with a teacher once in 4th grade. The way I remember it, the class was being rowdy, and I was having fun, too. Somehow I missed the cue to calm down and get quiet and Ms. Scott called me out for being too loud. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I rarely spoke up after that.
When I became a teacher myself, I found myself drawn to the kids who had struggled with their teachers in previous years.
There was my sweet student with ADHD who was miserable on their meds. The creative storyteller, newly diagnosed with dyslexia. The charming class clown who fought about homework every night with their mother. My trio of bookworms, who all kept their library books on the corners of their desks so they could dive back in whenever I paused a lesson.
I remember writing out report cards and getting ready for parent-teacher conferences every few months. My favorite thing was to talk about each student’s strengths. The parents would come into my classroom apprehensively, and I would see them relax as I told them all the things I admired and appreciated about their child.
Every one of my students was smart and silly and incredibly fun to teach. I never wanted them all to be the same.
It’s why I named this podcast Learn Their Way. It’s also why I am so passionate about personalized learning. We all bring our unique, individual strengths to make the world a better place!
<< musical interlude >>
Do you ever find that you’re putting limitations on yourself? “I’m not musical. I can’t draw. I’ve never been an athlete.” Those are all things I find myself thinking throughout the day — throughout my life, really.
When I met my husband, it was all of those things (and more) that I found myself attracted to. He is a beautiful singer, and I am tone-deaf. He played multiple sports in high school, and I barely passed P.E. He’s great with people, and I’m…awkward…to say the least.
And yet, he grew up doubting his intelligence because school didn’t come easy for him.
Could things have been different if someone could have identified his musical intelligence? His kinesthetic intelligence? His interpersonal intelligence?
We actually make a better team because of our differences, not in spite of them.
I am thankful my kids are growing up in a different time, when their individual personalities and unique strengths are valued.
By learning more about each of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, we can nurture our children’s strengths and help them develop their weaker areas.
<< musical interlude >>
Let’s take a quick look at each of the eight intelligences. Some of the information I want to share with you comes from the book I mentioned earlier, You’re Smarter Than You Think. The author, Dr. Thomas Armstrong, also wrote a picture book called Smarts! Everybody’s Got Them, which covers these ideas in a simpler way, appropriate for even young children.
- Linguistic intelligence, or word smarts, covers all the language arts: reading, writing, vocabulary, spelling, and even learning other languages. We can use our word smarts even if some of these subjects don’t come naturally to us. If this area is a struggle, look into various voice-to-text and text-to-voice options — and remember that the ability to tell a good story shouldn’t be limited by spelling or handwriting. All authors have editors to help them with the tricky bits.
- Music smarts can be making music or listening to music. Whether you can sing the melody, play it on an instrument, or tap out the rhythms with your body — it’s all musical intelligence. Most of us can memorize facts or rhymes when we set them to a song — it’s how our kids learned how to spell our 13-letter last name.
- Logic smarts come naturally to those who enjoy STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math. Whether it’s playing a strategy game, figuring out brain teasers, or solving mysteries, it’s all logical-mathematical intelligence. We can help our kids develop their logic smarts by encouraging curiosity!
- Picture smarts, or visual-spatial intelligence, probably come naturally to most of us. Watching movies, working with art materials, or learning by watching people do things — we live in a visual world.
- Body smarts — kinesthetic intelligence — are probably the least understood and the least appreciated. Children with kinesthetic intelligence are often reminded to sit down (or sit still), even though they learn better when they can move their bodies. There are so many advantages to connecting the mind and body — we can all benefit from being more body-smart.
In our last episode, we talked about introversion and extroversion, which might overlap a bit with the next two intelligences: people smarts and self smarts.
- People with interpersonal intelligence prefer to work and learn with others. They are good listeners, make friends easily, enjoy group activities, and make wonderful leaders.
- People with intrapersonal intelligence know themselves really, really well. They might like spending time thinking deeply about things that matter to them or keep a journal to set goals and plan for the future.
- Nature smarts are the 8th type of intelligence described by Gardner. Naturalistic learners might be drawn to animals or plants. They might like sorting items or classifying them, enjoying being outside or curating collections indoors.
As you listened to the different multiple intelligences, I wonder if you saw yourself or someone you care about in the descriptions. The best thing about Dr. Gardner’s theory is that we can grow and nurture all eight areas, even as adults.
Dr. Armstrong’s books have practical ideas for developing our weaker areas with practical, everyday activities, like sketching in our journal or trying a new type of movement. (I highly recommend both of them if you are interested in learning more about this topic.)
We can also ask our children to help us with the intelligences that come naturally to them. My musical daughter can share her favorite songs with me, and my kinesthetic daughter can teach me new dance moves.
Remember that learning about these different frameworks isn’t meant to keep us — or our kids — in a box. Every personality quiz, from learning styles to the enneagram, can teach us a little bit more about who we are. But they are all just one piece of a much larger puzzle that can be put together hundreds of different ways.
We will keep growing and changing throughout our lives, and we can model that process for our kids!
All right parents, it’s time for homework.
If you have a few minutes this week, I would love for you to pull out a piece of paper or journal, and reflect on these questions:
- What limitations do you put on yourself? How can you switch out the negative thinking with a growth mindset?
- Which of Gardner’s intelligences seem natural to you? How about the other members of your family?
- How can you use the theory of multiple intelligences to nurture your child’s natural strengths?
You can head to rollingprairiereaders.com/episode9 to read a full transcript of today’s episode, download a copy of these questions, and see our favorite resources related to today’s topic.
Thank you for listening to this week’s episode, and thank you for supporting Learn Their Way!
Be sure to tune in next time as we talk about time management tips for kids. See you then!