Topics in Early Childhood Education

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Multiple Intelligences

In 1983 Howard Gardner introduced his theory of multiple intelligences. The intelligences include:
Linguistic ("word smart")
Logical-mathematical ("number/reasoning smart")
Spatial ("picture smart")
Bodily-Kinesthetic ("body smart")
Musical ("music smart")
Interpersonal ("people smart")
Intrapersonal ("self smart")
Naturalist ("nature smart")
He has suggested additional intelligences over the years, but the bottom line is that we are all good at something and learn in different ways.
It is always interesting to have my university students do a multiple intelligence inventory. Some participants are surprised by the high and low scores that become evident during the inventory. Other students think the inventory does a good job of summing up their intelligence strengths. When we do this inventory, I always stress that the lower scores on their inventory are not weaknesses, but areas that may not play a key role in their daily lives. They also may be areas that have been difficult for them to use for learning. However, we know that intelligence can change. I know that my inventory scores are much different now than they would have been when I was in my 20s. This is mostly due to what I have chosen to do with my life. Linguistic and spatial skills have become more prominent in my life while logical thinking and music have become less of a focus for me.
We use the multiple intelligence inventory so that I can show my students that children have many learning styles and different opportunities to excel. When a child has a rounded view of life's choices, he can make educated life decisions in the future. Children who are not exposed to different learning areas do not understand all the choices that life can provide and they may have a difficult time learning new skills. This is another important consideration when working with young children.


Sunday, February 06, 2011


I began teaching children's literature to college students in 1997. As the years have passed, I became convinced about how important it is for teachers and parents to read children's and adolescent literature. Whether you are teaching 5 year-olds or 15 year-olds, I don't think there is any better way to remind yourself how children function than by reading literature featuring young characters. Each time I read a new children's novel I feel a deeper connection to kids. I believe that good teachers read children's literature.
I just finished reading the current Newbery Medal winner, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. Abilene Tucker, the main character, is sent by her father to the town of Manifest for the summer. True to it's name, the town and citizens reveal to Abilene their unusual history and how her father fits into their existence. The town folk also have a few things manifested to them as Abilene searches through the history of the town. I think the manifestation that came to me during reading is how children interpret what they are told using what background knowledge they have acquired. It reminded me again that when you tell a child something, your interpretation of those instructions may not be the same translation in the child's head. Children can create an entirely different experience out of the simplest suggestion.
You learn a lot about children by reading. Check out Moon Over Manifest and see what is manifested to you.