Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Developing thinking skills and using multiple intelligences

A Workshop given by Mario Rinvolucri 26th March 2006

Robert L. Fielding

It was fortuitous that Hans Lal - a representative on the University’s Professional Development Committee - managed to persuade Mario to come here today to give this useful workshop on using multiple intelligences in the learning environment.

Clarity of thought and the ability to draw upon different facets of one’s intelligence is vitally important when it comes to making decisions that affect the country, and as today’s undergraduates may well become tomorrow’s professionals, leaders, and captains of industry; their ability to think critically and realize their full potential is indeed vital.

The University General Requirements Unit (UGRU) is about to embark on courses designed to develop students critical thinking ability; vital in the world we live in, as well as in studies at university. Mario’s workshop gave thirty teachers plenty to think about this evening.

Drawing upon the work of Dr. Howard Gardner, and applying it to teaching situations, Mario Rinvolucri illustrated the eight different intelligences proposed by Dr. Gardner by animated and highly instructive and enjoyable activities which ensured the success of the workshop as a learning experience for the participants.

The eight different intelligences proposed by Dr. Gardner are:
Ø Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
Ø Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
Ø Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
Ø Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
Ø Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
Ø Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
Ø Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
Ø Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Each of the varied activities forced participants to ‘go into parts of the mind normally used to process things in other ways’.

Group members readily identified with certain points in the talk, recounting similar experiences that accorded with points made by the speaker.

In effect, Mario’s main point throughout the workshop was that there are other ways of teaching Mathematics, for example, than merely using numerical symbols to the exclusion of other items that draw upon students’ different intelligences, and this was held to be true for all forms of instruction and tuition.

The point was also made that in conventional schooling, people who learn in ways other than linguistically and logically are not always catered for in recognized teaching methodologies and testing tools.

To illustrate points made, Mario demonstrated teaching techniques that utilize ability from the other six intelligences. Forms of irregular verbs, for example, were taught using body movements instead of words on the board, and it became clear that otherwise drab lessons on uninteresting subjects can be livened up to make them more memorable and, more importantly, to teach in ways that accord with the varying abilities of learners.

Finally, and urging teachers not to use symbols and learning devices and mnemonics, for example, that are culturally unacceptable or which fly in the face of conventional logic, Mario rounded off an enjoyable and informative evening with exercises designed to allow students to find out something about their own, preferred way of learning.

Everyone almost certainly came away knowing something more about themselves and how they best learn, and how to use this to teach in ways that exploit the multiple intelligences that may or may not be dormant in all of us, I know I did.

Robert L. Fielding


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