Why do I believe multiple intelligences are important?
I believe they’re important because they represent another facet of student diversity. I appreciate that as learners we are all different. We have different ways of learning and demonstrating our learning. We are good at different skills to varying capacities, and one skill is not inherently better than another. I believe it is important to see the many ways learner diversity exists. I believe that it should be reflected in the classroom.
Classrooms, that don’t take these kind of diversities into consideration (and celebrate them), run the risk of pushing students toward conformity. Moreover, if we assume that there is only one way to be a good student or one way to learn, than we marginalize students. Additionally, if we do not encourage and celebrate the many ways people learn and use knowledge, we place certain ways of knowing above others. We can begin to place certain skills and intelligences above others. This kind of privileging tells people that there is only one way to be intelligent.
Sir Ken Robinson says that we know that intelligence is diverse, dynamic, and distinct. If we don’t support these notions then some students will begin to believe that they aren’t intelligent, just because they don’t fit into the valued intelligences. Sir Ken Robinson describes schools as progressively focusing on the upper body, then the head, and then just the right half of the brain. That is to say, that we hold the thinking of the right side of the brain over everything else. That is to say that we favor maths and sciences above the arts and humanities.
Schooling that only delivers instruction and assesses understanding from one form of intelligence is marginalizing all of the learners that don’t think that way. This kind of school says some people are smart and some aren’t. Some things are worthwhile and some aren’t. It can become too standardized and too lopsided. That is why I believe multiple intelligences are important. We need diversity and we need to value all different types of learners, because the best education is one that reflects all people and gives everyone a chance to learn and share their learning in their own way.