Hammers Don’t Belong in Education

As a school year winds down, it is a good time for reflection. Are you an educator? Perhaps you are a parent or grandparent just earning the title of teacher? It certainly doesn’t have to feel as if you are hammering concepts. You should not feel you must nail your children’s pants to the chair! Hammers, after all, don’t belong in education!

“You can’t force a rosebud to blossom by beating it with a hammer.” Rachel Naomi Remen

Howard Gardner

Initially, this pandemic may have created additional stresses for families. Creative educational approaches may be an answer. The best learning comes from playing with your children’s talents. Just ask Howard Gardner! He is an American psychologist born in 1943. Howard Gardner has had a significant impact on the field of education.

Many of my years were spent teaching art as well as talented and gifted classes. As a result I was influenced by Mr. Gardner. While at a conference, I fell in love with his Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

The beauty is that a student’s talents and interests can be tapped. These may consequently prove mastery of a certain concept. More personal investment from the student helps them retain the learning.

Multiple Intelligence Theory in Education

The following is one way the multiple intelligence theory could be used. It could be an interdisciplinary method. All students could be studying social studies concepts. To demonstrate proof of learning, some students might pull in art and language arts for a final project. For another, it could be math and music. Yet another may utilize science and movement. In this example, all students would study the same concepts from the discipline of social studies. The difference, however, would be their end of lesson products.

Discovering and utilizing special intelligences is especially revitalizing. It can feel as if it makes one’s breath breathe deeper. Perhaps one’s heart may beat stronger. Maybe one’s voice may sing sweeter! As it is what we are meant to do, it increases ambition for learning. Just think if these were tied to everyday classes!

Certainly, a discussion between an intuitive parent or teacher and your child may be in order. This can tease out which specific intelligences speak to them.

Many Ways to Be Intelligent! No Hammers!

Most importantly, Gardner’s theory says that there are many ways to be intelligent. Initially, seven intelligences were identified. Later two more were added. The original seven are 1) musical-rhythmic, 2) mathematical, 3) bodily-kinesthetic, 4) linguistic, 5) visual-spatial, 6) interpersonal and 7) intrapersonal. Later, 8) naturalistic and 9) existential were added.

  1. Musical-rhythmic would include singing, playing a musical instrument, or recognizing the music or rhythm in everyday sounds.
  2. Mathematical intelligence would be working with numerals and their functions.
  3. Using the strength and coordination of one’s body would be bodily-kinesthetic.
  4. Linguistic intelligence is working with words.
  5. Artistic skill as well as a sense of space as in map making would be visual-spatial.
  6. Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to work well with others.
  7. A deep sense of self-knowledge is evident with intrapersonal intelligence.
  8. Naturalistic intelligence is knowledge of the world of nature.
  9. Existential intelligence deals with the purpose of life and the big picture of our existence.

Here are a few examples of products which would connect to various intelligences (as indicated by number).

write and perform a song 1
take a nature hike 3 & 8
write a play 4 & 5
perform a play 5 & 6
create a dance 3 & 5
paint a picture 5
draw a map 5
measure ingredients/double or halve a recipe 2
create a budget for allowance 2
build a bird house 2,3,5,& 8
pot plants, plant garden 8
care for animals 8
write about self-strengths 4 & 7
draw self-portrait 5 & 7
discuss thoughts on the meaning of life 9,4 & 6


Last of all, think of yourself as a life-long learner. How do you sneak in new learning opportunities? Usually things you produce in your spare time are strongly tied to your innate multiple-intelligences. Our children are no different. It is important to connect a student’s strengths to the learning goal. This creates a more permanent learning experience.

Hammers don’t belong in education! Remove the hammer from forced learning. Use it to build a bird-house instead!

Here is another education post Child’s Play 101.

Published by Linda M. Wolfe

Midwestern mystic with varying amounts of mother, teacher, artist, seeker

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