P2 – Practice differentiated instruction. To me, this means that teachers are applying their knowledge of different stages of development and learning, and theories on language acquisition and multiple intelligences to a variety of content areas to allow for broader student understanding. One way to accomplish this is by understanding the value of multiple intelligence activities within classroom instruction. According to Howard Gardner, the “Father of Multiple Intelligences” (Edwards and Gardner, 2009), students possess “different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways.” Our current system has us trying to assess and teach every student in the same (or similar) way, and it is progressing more toward this with the arrival of the Common Core, though admittedly the Common Core is designed with the idea that students learn at their own pace in mind. Gardner’s multiple intelligences go to show that teaching in this manner is not practical or efficient, and in the end doesn’t help either the students or society. Because students learn in so many distinctive ways, “the broad spectrum of students—and perhaps the society as a whole—would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a number of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means” (Edwards and Gardner, 2009). Take, for example, Gillian Lynne, ballerina and choreographer for Cats and Phantom of the Opera. As a child she was “hopeless in school” and was told she had a learning disorder (Robinson, 2006). Her mother took her to a specialist, who asked a lot of questions, then told Gillian he needed to speak with her mother out in the hall. They left the room, and as they left, he turned the radio on. As soon as they were gone, Gillian was on her feet, moving to the music. The specialist turned to her mother and said “Gillian doesn’t have a learning disorder. She’s a dancer” (Robinson, 2006). Gillian’s success speaks loudly to the effect being given the opportunity to express herself in a way that was familiar to her rather than being put on medication and stuffed back into an uncompromising classroom. I think that in any given classroom, it is imperative to understand that any of the students could be another Gillian Lynne, or simply in need of a different way of knowing things. In the classrooms I tutor, I see every day that some students work better with pictures and others need the systematic process to follow, and still others are able to intuit what they need. This kind of knowledge will be important as I start to form my own classroom and methods for teaching and assessment. In the future, I will need to be aware of not only Gardner’s theory, but many others that all have value and will affect the learning environment.
Edwards, O. (Interviewer) and Gardner, H. (Interviewee). (2009). Interview with the father of multiple intelligences [interview transcript]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-interview.
Robinson, K. (2006, February). How schools kill creativity. Retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity#t-1043056