Saturday, September 30, 2000

Celebrating All Children’s Intelligences

(Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, Issue 2 – Autumn 2000)
David Whitaker, Toolbox Training

I am about a month away from completing a Masters in Education degree. The program focuses on integrating the arts into learning so as to meet the interests of all children, something that the SAC world has done for years. I have been consistently reminded throughout the program that we don’t all learn the same way.

In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University, introduced the concept of multiple intelligences (MI). He stated that traditional education focuses on linguistic intelligence and logical/mathematical intelligence, leaving other kinds of learners behind. Some people learn best through art (spatial intelligence), others through music (musical). Some people respond to nature (naturalist); others are highly kinesthetic (body/kinesthetic). There are people who excel at self-awareness (intrapersonal) and others that shine in interpersonal skills (interpersonal).

The point of his theory was that all learners must be recognized for their abilities and given opportunities to shine in that area. While elementary school classrooms across the country have been revolutionized by the concept, the idea is not new. The child care world has been doing it for years.

Walk into a SAC program with interest areas set up for the children and you see a variety of simultaneous activities. A child might be drawing in the art area while others play checkers in the game area. Someone else might be building an elaborate tower in the block area. A quiet area might be occupied by a child engaged in a book. Children might be prancing about in dress-up clothes in a dramatic play area. Others might be listening to songs on headphones in a music area.

By providing a variety of materials to children in a variety of interest areas, SAC programs give all children opportunities to demonstrate their unique abilities. Heck, while these children are “playing” they might accidentally even learn something.

Want to learn more about multiple intelligences? Check out Toolbox Training’s Meet All Children’s Intelligences workshop or the book Multiple Intelligences & After-School Environments: Keeping All Children in Mind.