Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Application of the senses...

Yesterday in the blog post, Why Children Need Wood Shop, I mentioned the ages old notion that children learn best from their senses and activities. Howard Gardner took the basic human senses, and described them as specific intelligences, (adding a few to boot) and then prescribed a model of education in which teachers would devise lessons to make sure the full range of intelligences would be encompassed in the teaching of their kids. His notice that children (and we all) are intelligent in a variety of ways, and his call to educators that a narrow definition of intelligence was short sighted and destructive of societal objectives was a profound moment in educational history. But why have schools done so little to actually implement a multiple intelligences approach? Perhaps we've made it  much too hard for ourselves.

Say a teacher notices that he or she has some super-smart kinesthetic learners, some auditory learners, some visual, and a few math whizzes thrown in to boot. How is she or he going to devise a curriculum (most teachers don't get to design curriculum, but if they were) that encompasses all the various learning styles in the classroom?

The simple answer is that only the very best can, most don't and none are given necessary preparation to do so.

But when teachers do real things with their students that involve all the senses, in real learning activities they have created the ideal learning environment for all intelligences. When students study every subject from books, or computers or laptops that all feel the same, smell the same, and sound the same as pages are turned, don't expect that to be a multi-sensory, multiple intelligences approach to learning and do not expect very much real learning to take place. But put a kid in a lab or workshop in which all human senses are put to work and real lasting enthusiasm for learning will follow.

I'm calling for some simplicity here.  To set up learning environments in which the teacher must act like a pharmacist administering customized lessons to each individual learning type is not reasonable. So I urge all teachers to make things easier and more effective...  In schools (at all levels), do real stuff and allow real learning to follow.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rare indeed is the teacher who can manage to teach on multiple levels. Your way makes perfect sense.

Mario