Let Students Learn Their Own Way: Encourage multiple intelligences

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September 12, 2016 by HCDE Communications

shutterstock_316689260I have had the privilege to serve students, families and the community for almost two decades as a teacher, reading specialist, district intervention coordinator, principal and in my current role as the director of special populations for Harris County Department of Education.  My passion lies with those students who have an extraordinary gift of learning differently.  I am convinced that our students come to us with intelligences that are unique to themselves that may not fit into what some consider the “intelligent” student.  I am referring to what is called multiple intelligences.

Dr. Thomas Armstrong, psychologist, lecturer, consultant and author, wrote the book, “In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Multiple Intelligences,” which has been said to shatter the conventional wisdom that brands our students as “underachievers,” “unmotivated,” or as suffering from “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” or other “learning disabilities.”

Armstrong explains how these flawed labels often overlook students who are in possession of a distinctive combination of multiple intelligences, and demonstrates how to help them acquire knowledge and skills according to their sometimes extraordinary aptitudes.

The eight intelligences Dr. Armstrong is referring to are:

– Linguistic intelligence
 (“word smart”)
– Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
– Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
– Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
– Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
– Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
– Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
– Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

The first two, linguistic intelligence and logical-mathematical intelligence, are the most commonly appreciated in the educational world, however there are six other intelligences that should be equally examined and celebrated. Take time to observe children to see what they are naturally attracted to and how they naturally solve problems. Doing this gives insight to teachers as to how to design lessons that tap into the unique abilities that these students possess, which could allow them to demonstrate what they have learned in their own way.

Parents should take this same approach and encourage and support the development of interests in the fine arts, music, sports, culinary skills, nature or even architecture.  Our students are more than the curriculum that is taught in kindergarten through 12th grade. They are unique, passionate, brilliant individuals who have a desire to be validated and deserve to be taught and encouraged to reach their fullest potential…in their own way.

About the Blogger:

Darlene Breaux serves as the Director for Special Populations for the Teaching and Learning Center at the Harris County Department of Education. She has a passion for working with students with learning differences and helping them discover the brilliance in their differences.  When not training, coaching teachers and supporting parents, Darlene enjoys listening to music, learning the new line dances and shopping for that PERFECT shoe!

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