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The Importance of Designing Lessons with Multiple Intelligence in Mind

The Importance of Designing Lessons with Multiple Intelligence in Mind | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Howard Gardener, in his 1993 book Frames of Mind, provides a means of mapping the broad range of abilities humans possess. His later work expanded upon this and posits that our capabilities can be grouped into eight comprehensive categories or intelligences (Gardener, 1999). These are the eight proposed: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, interpersonal, and naturalist. When asked why intelligence and not talent, he said “I am deliberately being somewhat provocative. If I’d said that there are seven kinds of competencies, people would yawn and say ‘Yeah, yeah.’ But by calling them ‘intelligence,’ I’m saying that we’ve tended to put on a pedestal one variety called intelligence, and there’s a plurality of them, and some are things we’ve never thought about as being ‘intelligence’ at all” (Weinreich-Haste, 1985, p. 48). This goes to the heart of the discussion, people sometimes do now value different approaches to learning, as they may not take seriously or understand the varying talents and aptitudes of learners.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Roshane M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

The Impact of Multiple Intelligence on Lesson Design

With this in mind, the teacher must attempt to know the student, which is, of course, a process that can be aided by providing the learners with a range of activities and assignments. A plurality of techniques and methods of engagement may unearth the dominant intelligences, but may also highlight for development the less practiced ones.

a group of people playing a table game

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Here are the features of each intelligence category (Armstrong, 2009):

  • Linguistic: the capacity to use words effectively, whether orally or in writing;
  • Logical-mathematical: the capacity to use numbers effectively and to reason well;
  • Spatial: the ability to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately and to perform transformations upon those perceptions;
  • Body-kinesthetic: expertise in using one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings and facility in using one’s hands to produce or transform things;
  • Musical: the capacity to perceive, discriminate, transform, and express musical forms;
  • Interpersonal: the ability to perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people;
  • Interpersonal: self-knowledge and the ability to act adaptively based on that knowledge;
  • Naturalist: expertise in the recognition and classification of the numerous species–the flora and fauna–of an individual’s environment. This also extends to non-living environmental features.

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One can see why it would be important to have various approaches to accommodate the many bits of intelligence that may be present in a given class. A student with a linguistic dominant intelligence, being more comfortable with syntax and structures, phonology, semantics, and the pragmatic uses of language (Armstrong, 2009) may excel at a traditional grammar lesson per se, but a teacher must also be able to adjust to the needs of the other groups. This is not for the benefit of individual students, but all students who have a richer experience as a result of higher class engagement. Finally, it might be well worth the effort to engage and use as resources students who have dominant interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence to gauge the impact of lessons and strategies, so that the teacher may continue to improve.

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The teacher aims to excite the learner into becoming a participant in their education. This kind of result may be gained through lesson planning with multiple intelligences in mind, as people respond well when they feel valued and considered.

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