Each of us has something we do particularly well. Something we would call our "gifting," or our talent. Chances are, we've heard from an early age how talented we were in that one particular area, and if we are fortunate or had parents who were enthusiastic, we may have felt gifted in numerous areas. I was always considered "good" at art and writing; my older brother has always been very good with mechanics; my younger brother is a fabulous musician. My "giftings" seemed to make achieving good grades easy--I worked hard, sure, but my strengths definitely dovetailed with the requirements of scholarship. My brothers on the other hand--equally gifted, but in different areas--had to work harder at school, both to achieve and remain interested. Perhaps you can identify, or have a child that struggles or achieves easily in this way.
Well, I came across an educational theory (stay with me here, it gets interesting...)that addresses these differences, and in some ways (not all) expresses how we teach and structure much of the Lighthouse curriculum. It is called "multiple intelligences," introduced in 1983 by a man named Howard Gardner. Now I wouldn't begin to claim that I've read everything Gardner says about his theory, so give me grace if I've meandered down a strange little educational path, but it's intriguing to consider, so here we go.
Howard Gardner claims that all human beings have multiple intelligences. These multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened. He believes each individual has nine intelligences:
- Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence -- well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words
- Mathematical-Logical Intelligence -- ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and capacity to discern logical or numerical patterns
- Musical Intelligence -- ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber
- Visual-Spatial Intelligence -- capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly
- Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence -- ability to control one's body movements and to handle objects skillfully
- Interpersonal Intelligence -- capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others.
- Intrapersonal Intelligence -- capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes
- Naturalist Intelligence -- ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature
- Existential Intelligence -- sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.
Take a minute and think about which of these intelligences you have, or you see in your children--it's kind of a hoot. You can even rank them (if you tend toward a mixture of intrapersonal and mathematical-logical intelligence...)
Many times, traditional curriculum does nothing to recognize that not every student is able to excel at standardized testing, or writing essays, or rote memorization. What I see Lighthouse doing well is incorporating opportunities for students to express knowledge gained in various ways according to their "multiple intelligences," especially in our Independent Study curriculum. Any of the following ideas would fit with what our teachers call The Lighthouse Way, and be seen in other forms in our classrooms:
- History courses studying period music and art.
- Science units incorporating visual, musical and kinesthetic experiences.
- Language arts classes reading Civil War literature, studying re-enactments and building a topographical map.
- Elementary school students composing and performing songs about math concepts which satisfy the rubrics they and their teachers have developed.
- Middle school students creating multimedia presentations combining animations, MIDI compositions, and writing to satisfy interdisciplinary unit requirements.
It is exciting to work with a group of people who love and value the God-given intelligences of our kids. If you are interested in learning more about the multiple intelligences theory, take a look at this website: http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/index.html, where you can even take an M.I. test of your own. :)
(Credit for content goes to www.thirteen.org., http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/index.html, accessed 1/19/12)