Brain Rules #3–Every Brain is wired differently, in other words, Multiple Intelligences
The rule is from the book Brain Rules. It is not new though.
You’ve seen this before. The idea of multiple intelligences, that we each learn in a different way. We know this, of course, but we still often teach to a certain type of student in the class, somehow imagining that most of the students are like this.
Each brain is different, meaning that there are as many learning styles as there are people–7 billion styles. Seven billion!
How do we teach to every student in the class with only one teacher? Can we teach them all?
Bruce Campbell gives a great example of teaching for multiple intelligences in his third-grade classroom by using a workstation for each type of learning. He says that students developed academically but also in areas such as teamwork, cooperation, and ” new skills emerged: some students discovered musical, artistic, literary, mathematical and other new-found capacities and abilities. Others became skilled leaders.”
It is a great idea. I admire Mr. Campbell for putting the idea to work.
So then, how does one put these ideas to work in a classroom or on a project?
I think the best way, outside of what Mr. Campbell did, is to design projects or activities with many dimensions. There are many ways one might do this, of course, but I’ll give one example. Let’s look at a project talking about our local state. This could be done with several components.
1. The Intrapersonal component would be individual research on, for example, the state capital. This the student would do alone.
2. Then, the Interpersonal component could be discussing the research with other members of that group. If each member has done research in the previous component, the Intrapersonal component, then they might get together and discuss this, perhaps putting it all together as a presentation. Another idea might be that the group go out an interview someone, perhaps a local state official.
3. The Spatial Intelligence component would be something where the kids could use the research they did in 1. to make a map of the geographical features of the state.
4. Another way to learn is Kinesthetic Intelligence. Here, the students might put on a play based on the history of the state. This would work well if combined with 5. Musical Intelligence, which is, as you guessed, learning through music that they could use in their play.
5. Logic and Math component. Students would crunch some numbers and use these to make a chart or graph. Perhaps they could talk about temperatures or population. The growth of population in the capital city would make a good subject for a graph.
6. The next component, Verbal and or Linguistic Intelligence, is the usual analytical and reading work students do. Here, we could have our students write a short essay, based on what they have learned in the preceding units.
Multiple intelligences and Brain Rule #3 are really different sides of the same coin. With good planning and imagination, we teachers can make good use of these ideas in our classes.