Coping with complexity in the classroom: On multiple intelligences

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TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

Part 3
HAVING made students from both the public and private schools who teach across basic education levels, and one or two who are taking a MAEd course as a cognate and are teachers of collegiate courses, they all agree that classroom teaching is an extremely complicated activity. Some peers, however, feel that the complexities in graduate classes may not be as much as those faced in basic education. An observation sourced from a hyperlink states: “The classroom teacher must pursue dozens of teaching aims with dozens of learners simultaneously. This task is infinitely more complex than the task facing, say, a surgeon, who has to work with only one patient at a time and who always has at least a couple of assistants to help out with the work.” www.tecks.co.nz/home/…/Understandingofthe complexitiesofclassroompractice

Our discussion in previous issues on the types of memory (sensory, short-term, working and long-term memory) and on the types of learners—the visual, auditory,tactile/kinesthetic and the global-analytic continuum learners— included their implications on how we have to adjust our approaches and techniques for effective teaching. Memory and learning styles bring us to accept why we meet instances when learners seem to take things easy or are nonchalant while some others seem to be more receptive, seriously attentive during sessions. Perhaps the global learners among them, finding minimum relevance of course outcomes to their present interests, made light of satisfying course requirements; or the analytic learners, preferring to work alone, were unhappy having group work since day one. We proceed with our discussion with another source of complexity–that from multiple intelligences.

Multiple intelligences and instructional activities
Intelligence is defined as a uniform cognitive capacity of a person with which he or she is born. Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) brought to us this much-lauded theory which has guided teachers to maximize learning gains for various learners. Verbal linguistic intelligence learners are one of the nine intelligence learners. They are characterized as having “well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words.” In college, these learners tend to choose literature, language, journalism or communication arts as a major. They are likely biased for stories, feature articles, speeches or other modes of the written or spoken word. The second type are the mathematical-logical intelligence learners. They possess “the ability to think conceptually and abstractly and a capacity to discern logical or numerical patterns.” These learners are sharp on theorizing, fond of numbers and calculations. In this digital technology era, we will find them absorbed in programming and in analytics. A third type are those with musical intelligence—possessed with “the ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber.” They are fond of going to concerts, playing musical instruments, composing, adept in handling CDs, tapes and other modes of recording music.

A fourth type are learners with visual-spatial intelligence—with the capacity “to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly.” Skilled in artwork, they can draw, paint and illustrate. Their skills would show on “posters, slides, video tapes, laser disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs” and other forms of artwork suchas “collage-making.” They would love visiting art museums. A fifth type are those with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. These learners possess the ability “to control their body movements and to handle objects skillfully,” are fond of movies, animations, physical and rhythmic exercise, do choreography; hence would love to be in competitions in dance or even in athletics.


Another form of multiple intelligence is interpersonal intelligence. This sixth type of learner has the capacity “to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others.” Provided they have basic knowledge of the issue at hand, they are good emissaries or third parties to conflict management. They can work well in a “team or group work and can assume specialist roles.” They do well in plays, debates and as members of panels. A seventh type have intrapersonal intelligence. They have the capacity “to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes.” Teachers will find that these learners produce excellent diaries, journals, portfolios and memoirs. Since they have a tendency to reflect on themselves, they may change behavior or habits for their personal growth. They are likely to welcome taking part in meditation exercises such as in spiritual retreats. An eighth type are those with naturalist intelligence–an ability “to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature.” Such learners would be fond of the life sciences. For project assignments, they would come up with terrariums, aquariums and class pets. They would enjoy visiting “farms, zoos, museums, animal care and nature centers.” I’ll bet they are tops in animal and plant taxonomy.

Finally, a ninth type are those with existential and moral intelligence—with “sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.” As young adults, they would refer to horoscopes. As collegiate learners, they would tend to major in philosophy and theology, or even dabble in astrology. They would welcome work on causes, civic, community engagement and charity work. Professionally, they would fit in foundations and in other philanthropic undertakings. For more, please refer to <http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/ concept2class /mi/exploration _subl.html>

The author, one of the country’s most accomplished institutional management experts, held top academic positions at Xavier University (the Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She attended topmost universities in the Philippines, Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is journal copy editor of, and Graduate Studies professorial lecturer at, the Liceo de Cagayan University. Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the Commission on Higher Education and recently, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland).

ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph

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