Hammers Don’t Belong in Education

Now that the school year is winding down, it is an optimal time for reflection. Are you an educator or perhaps a parent or grandparent who just earned the new title of teacher? It doesn’t have to feel as if you are hammering concepts or that you must nail your children’s pants to the chair!

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

This pandemic more than likely created additional stresses for you and your family. Looking at different and creative approaches to how we educate may be an answer. The best learning comes from playing with your children’s talents. Just ask Howard Gardner! An American psychologist born in 1943, Howard Gardner has had a significant impact on the field of education.

After a good number of years spent teaching art as well as talented and gifted classes, I count myself as one who was also influenced by Mr. Gardner. While at a conference, I fell in love with his Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

The beauty of this theory is that a student’s innate talents and interests could be tapped to prove mastery and understanding of a certain concept. Having more personal investment from the student makes the learning stick with them longer.

Here is one way the multiple intelligence theory could be used. It could be approached as an interdisciplinary method of combining various disciplines. For example, all students could be studying basic concepts from the discipline of social studies. For the proof of learning, some students might pull in visual-spatial (art) and linguistic (language arts) for a final project. For another person, it could be mathematics and musical-rhythmic. Yet another student may utilize naturalistic (science) and bodily -kinesthetic (movement). In this example, all students would study the same concepts from the discipline of social studies, but differing end of lesson products could result by opening into other disciplines.

Discovering and utilizing one’s special intelligences can feel as if it makes one’s breath breathe deeper, heart beat stronger and voice 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!

Many times a simple discussion of these intelligences between an intuitive parent or teacher and your child can tease out which specific ones speak to them.

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

Think of yourself as a life-long learner. How do you sneak in new learning opportunities? The chances are good that the things you produce in your spare time are strongly tied to your innate multiple-intelligences. Our children are no different. Tying a student’s strengths and desires to that which needs to be learned creates a more valuable and permanent learning experience.

Remove the hammer from forced learning. Use it to build a bird-house instead!

Published by Linda M. Wolfe

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

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