Three recent education news articles sparked my thinking about how important it is that students are taught how to use their multiple intelligences strengths to be successful in school. While many MI-enthusiasts have focused on transforming traditional schools into fully realized MI-inspired schools, my work is bringing the power of MI into the daily lives of each and every student and teacher—regardless of what kind of school they are stuck in or privileged to attend. These three articles demonstrate the growing importance of increasing students’ Intrapersonal intelligence and training them to use their MI strengths to succeed in the classroom.
Engaging Boys in the Classroom
The first article that grabbed my attention was about engaging boys who are resistant and disengaged. Boys are in trouble and struggling in ever greater numbers as girls advance into higher levels of education while too many boys opt out. The important factor for engaging boys cited in the research was the nature of the teacher-student relationship. This is the essential ground upon which learning for boys takes place. As the article states, “…teachers who effectively established positive relationships with their male students were characterized by: reaching out, often beyond standard classroom protocols . . .locating and responding to students’ individual interests and talents…” (emphasis added).
Simply substitute “MI strengths” for “and talents” in the above sentence and you’ll see how MI can be a powerful platform upon which to engage boys in “boring” academic subjects that require deep thinking to be successful. When the connections between their specific talents (intelligence) are explicitly linked to academic skills then you’ll see more “deep and active learning” that is required for success. This is facilitated when boys are felt to be appreciated by the teacher because s/he publicly recognizes that the boy has an important “intelligence” – not merely a “nice talent or hobby.”
Screen Reading = Passive Learning
The importance of active learning via one’s cognitive strengths was again highlighted in a second article that describes how screen-reading on computers or other digital devices is less effective that paper-print-reading. This is vitally important as paper text quickly gives way to screen reading. The problem is that “People tend to become much more passive when holding a digital reading device in their hands . . .” and this leads them to “…skim the surface of the texts in search of specific information, rather than dive in deeply in order to draw inferences, construct complex arguments, or make connections to their own experiences.”
Note-Taking: By Hand vs. Typing on a Laptop
The problem of skim reading is echoed in a third article that compared note-taking on paper to typing notes on laptops during college lectures. It was found that, “We don’t write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of the lecture content verbatim.” and “The people who were taking notes on the laptops don’t have to be judicious in what they write down.” When students “Take notes by hand, you have to process information as well as write it down. That initial selectivity leads to long-term comprehension.” (emphasis added)
The point is, information must be “processed” in order to be understood. Education is not simply about the quantity of verbal information that a person amasses. In fact, it was found that students with typed lengthy verbatim notes performed more poorly on quizzes a week later than did their peers with less wordy hand-written notes.
Implications for MI-strength-based Learning are Numerous.
All deep learning must pass through one’s Intrapersonal intelligence as the student judges what is and is not important to pay attention to. Second, what is attended to must then be encoded into memory. The visual and kinesthetic experiences attached to hand-written notes provides two additional neuro-cognitive modes for processing the verbal information into memory. Third, for real learning to take place, the new information needs to be retrievable from memory and the active sorting of that information into practical-logical arrangements on the page can be invaluable. If the learner pauses to include personal-logical notations to his/her notes (that are more difficult to do while verbatim typing) then the new information will be even more deeply encoded into one’s Intrapersonal memory system via logical connections.
This all leads me to a keener appreciation for teaching students how to use their MI strengths to enhance classroom learning and reading comprehension. The READING RADAR curriculum provides many different neuro-cognitive opportunities for students to pay attention, sort, decide, encode, elaborate, connect and then, retrieve new information in practical ways. http://reading-radar.wikispaces.com/
What Relationships Mean in Educating Boys. Education Week, May 7, 2014.
Research Around Digital Reading Points to Potential Learning Gaps. Education Week, May 7, 2014.
To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand. Robinson Meyer.