Beyond convention

Facets Neelima Kamrah explores the benefits of Multiple Intelligence Theory in our education. Each child is like the other child. At the same time each child is unlike other child as well. This is because everyone is endowed with unique and diverse gifts and talents.

Each has a unique individual personality and a gift of intelligence. It is, therefore, necessary to nurture these natural gifts in a harmonious manner thereby enriching them in the process and also saving them from possible premature death.

The aim is to enable all students to achieve at their own pace and in their own style. The moot question is “how to make the teaching-learning a personalized experience for all students with due respect to their diverse talents and intelligences?”. The idea is to build upon each individual’s strengths but at the same time respecting the unique differences.

Traditionally almost total attention of schools is on mastery of language along with consolidating logical and mathematical abilities. As a matter of fact apart, from verbal and computational intelligence, students can express their giftedness in a variety of other ways.

In an era when education has been termed as a basic need and a fundamental right for each child, the society is committed to educate every child irrespective of his/her social status, individual attributes or abilities and talents.

This heterogeneity must be seen as a challenge as well as an opportunity on the way to human resource development. It is a challenge since the education system as a whole has to gear to the gigantic requirements both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Multiple Intelligence Theory stimulates teachers and students to be imaginative in selecting curriculum. Tailoring the curriculum, delivery of the curriculum and determining how student knowledge is to be demonstrated becomes more fruitful with this theory.

Looking beyond convention

Also a look at the vocational and professional scenario shows ample opportunities for the deserving. Students, teachers and parents have to come out of the Engineer-Doctor-Manager Syndrome to avail of the diverse opportunities in construction and building industries, garment, leather and flower industries, entertainment and music industry, sports, games and athletic industry and a host of openings in the service sector industries.

These would call for, in addition to logical and mathematical abilities, a number of other abilities. These may relate to verbal or linguistic ability to produce, appreciate as well as communicate effectively. Students excelling in this ability may become translators, interpreters, novelists, poets, play wrights, salesmen, tourist guides etc. Students having musical or rhythmic ability can be successful in TV shows, as music composers, musicians, entrepreneurial ventures in musical instruments and music industry, music software etc.

Those interested in the career as architects, painters, sculptors, artists, designers, interior decorators etc. will have to polish their spatial or visual ability. Similarly those aspiring to try their luck in sports or entertainment industries as successful athlete, good player, agile gymnast, dancer, actor etc. will require abilities to control one’s body movements and handle objects skillfully.

Generic skills like intra and interpersonal skills, leadership qualities, entrepreneurial skills, negotiation skills and management skills are essential to become successful in life particularly as counselors, teachers, politicians, psychiatrists, religious leaders etc.

Unfortunately neither teachers nor students are aware of the vast opportunities available in the market. Consequently large number of differently-abled but gifted children can not avail of the opportunities and end up in routine jobs without any job or self satisfaction. If only their talents are recognized and nurtured properly by the education system, the economy can benefit from their intelligences.

Uniquely tailoring academics

The crucial ingredient is a commitment to knowing the inner minds of every individual student. This means learning about each student's background, interests, performance, anxieties, experiences and goals. This is not to stereotype or to preordain, but rather to ensure that educational decisions are made on the basis of an up-to-date profile of the student. Here, the Theory of Multiple Intelligence can be helpful because, as Kornhabu has pointed out, it is a good initial organizer.

If one wants to know students well, it is helpful to have a set of categories by which one can describe their strengths and weaknesses. After this, an effort has to be made to draw on this knowledge while making decision about curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment.

Addressing all 7 intelligences

There is a need to emphasise not only on mere acquisition of knowledge but also on character building. Classroom arrangements enable students to experience growth and development in all seven intelligences through a multitude of different resources and materials.

Teachers should facilitate and guide the learning, growth and development of their students by providing content and methodology in ways that address all the intelligences.

It is very necessary that each and every stakeholder must understand the importance of Multiple Intelligences whether they are administrators, community, School Board or District office, teachers, or even parents. Ony then successful implementation and integration of curricula with Multiple Intelligence is possible.

The great twentieth-century composer Igov Stravinsky once declared, “the more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit.” Perhaps it is time to exploit this principle in our attempt to educate the young mind.

(The author is Registrar, KIIT Group of Colleges, Gurgaon)

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