Workshop on Multiple Intelligences Theory held in Chennai

By TCN News

Chennai: “So, can you sing ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ to the tune of ‘Mary had a little lamb’?” asked Sadiya Saleh, the moderator of the workshop on Multiple Intelligences. One participant tried, but slowly went back to the original tune. “Well, people who are musically intelligent can!”

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The workshop on Theory of Multiple Intelligences was held on Saturday March 13th at Al-Qamar Academy, an Islamic school in Chenai. The workshop was open to women from the general public and attended by about 40 women.

The theory of Multiple Intelligences states that all human beings have at least eight different areas of intelligence, each related to a specific area of the brain. The theory developed by Howard Gardner from Harvard University, suggests that intelligence is centered in many different areas of the brain which are interconnected, rely upon one another, can work independently if needed and can be developed with the right environmental conditions.

Ms. Saleh explained that the eight identified intelligences are:

Verbal Linguistic – People strong in this love to read, write and tell stories.
Math-Logic Intelligence – Those high in this excel in science and math related areas.
Spatial Intelligence –Those strong in spatial intelligence make good architects, painters, cartographers, sculptors etc.
Musical intelligence –This intelligence is seen in musicians, dancers, Quran reciters, etc.
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence –Professionals who excel in fields of sport, drama, surgery are strong in this intelligence
Interpersonal Intelligence – Those strong in this area include leaders, politicians, counselors, teachers, salespeople etc.
Intrapersonal Intelligence – This intelligence is highly developed in such people as philosophers, psychiatrists, religious leaders, and brain researchers.
Naturalist Intelligence – those strong in this take up activities like hunting, farming and biological science.

Ms. Saleh demonstrated each intelligence by giving a problem to the audience. For linguistic intelligence, participants were asked to quickly write about a “Cloudy Day”, while for spatial, they were asked to draw a map from the main road to the school premises. Participants were also handed out a checklist of criteria for each intelligence and they had to rank their strength/ weakness in each.

Ms Saleh explained that the theory had implications for schools. Today, unfortunately, our education system values only Linguistic and or Math-Logical in children . Most of the intelligence tests also are designed to only measure these two intelligences. The sad fact of the matter is that children with intelligence in other areas are not recognized for their strengths or given as much importance. This leads to them having poor self esteem and not contributing effectively. This is a clear loss for society as in life, we see geniuses in every field. Infact, Ms. Saleh said that, “successful people” in life or leaders/ contributors are those with high Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligence and not necessarily those who were ranked first in exams. She quoted the example of Sachin Tendulkar who has very high Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence, but did not perform well at school.

Children have a medley of intelligences and are strong in some and weaker in others. They gravitate towards areas in which their intelligence is high. Children also learn topics in other areas when taught using the intelligence they are strong in. Thus, lesson planss should be designed to address all intelligences, so all children can learn easily. To demonstrate, Ms. Saleh divided the audience into groups of 5 and asked each group to design a lesson plan to teach about the Solar System using one particular intelligence. The participants came up with brilliant ideas. The group for Spatial Intelligence came up with a lesson plan which would model the solar system using fruit, while the Bodily Kinesthetic group decided to demonstrate the solar system, using students as planets revolving around the sun-student.

The participants were full of praise for the workshop. As one mother said “Now I can tap into my child’s intelligences. It can help enhance and refine intelligences that he has to develop him later on in life too.”

The workshop concluded with Aneesa Jamal, the correspondent of Al Qamar Academy, explaining how the Multiple Intelligence approach is implemented at the school. All children are valued for their diverse intelligences. The school has done away with exams thereby not artificially elevating any particular intelligence over others. The teaching methodology allows children to choose what they want to learn and at their pace. Children can spend extra time on areas of weakness with no fear of negative value judgments about them. The learning aids and projects at the school allow a child to use many intelligences.

Al Qamar Academy is an alternative style, primary level, Islamic school on the ECR. Started by Hauroon a B.Tech from IIT Madras and Aneesa, an MBA from the University of Washington, the school offers a child friendly and child oriented learning environment for children. The school can be contacted at 04442856252 or 967019226 or emailed at [email protected]. The moderator, Sadiya Saleh of “Learning with a Difference” is a free lance educational consultant who works with several schools to redefine their teaching methodology. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 9962551641.