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Teachers Forum
August, 2000

Multiple Intelligences in Pakistan

An Interview with
Ms. Fatma Ghulam
conducted by
Staneala M. Beckley

An introductory article on Multiple Intelligences is also available.

Ms. Fatma Ghulam is a Class 3 Teacher of Urdu and Social Studies at the Government Girls' Primary School, Kharali Jatan Union Council, Kontrila Markaz, Gujar Khan Tehsil, Rawalpindi District, Punjab Province, Pakistan.

Fatma Ghalum



Question: What was your first reaction when you were introduced to Multiple Intelligences?

Answer: I was first introduced to the MI concept at a training workshop for teachers organized by the NGO-ABES in 1999. My first reaction was one of curiosity. It did not take me too long to discover that some of the activities in which I engaged the children in my classes were actually based on MI principles. It was only that I was not familiar with all of the ideas related to the concept. I did not know it was called seven intelligences. As I learned more about it, I developed insights into how I could provide equal learning opportunities to all the children in my class.


Q: How were lessons based on principles of MI different from what you were used to?

A: Before I was introduced to the MI concept, I was more pre-occupied with what to teach than how to teach it. Completing the syllabus was my first priority. Although I prepared weekly diaries, they were very brief and superficial. Lesson objectives centered on giving knowledge to the children. But now, my diaries are richer; now I am more concerned about how I teach and about exploring paths to reach all the children through their varied intelligences.


Q: Many teachers worry that newer, activity-based and child-centred approaches would be difficult and would make bigger demands on them. In your experience, has this been so with the use of MI principles?

A: No. I do not find it an additional burden. I am very enthusiastic about my work and I feel that when a teacher is committed, she would seek out ways and means to provide children with quality learning opportunities. Actually, at first I experienced some difficulty organizing my lessons around activities that include the seven intelligences. But with time and practice, I had less difficulty. I am spurred on to enrich my lessons each time I remember that as a child myself, I never had the kind of learning experiences at school that I am providing now as a teacher. Without a doubt, lesson planning is more time-consuming now, but it is fun and a challenge to my creativity. It is sometimes also difficult to get the right kind of resources that I need. But I have learned to involve the children in designing the lessons. With a knowledge of what is needed, they bring materials from home. We also develop materials together in class, like the masks they have on in the photograph, tools of the different occupations, games and poems.


Q: What are some of the ways in which you have structured your lessons to introduce a variety of activities based on MI?

masks

A: From the topic of the lesson and what the children need to learn, I think through the seven intelligences and try to build around them activities that are relevant to the topic. For example, a topic in one of my social studies classes dealt with the seasons in Pakistan and seasonal fruits. The children and I wrote a poem on fruits; some designed and produced colourful fruit masks, each child chose her favourite fruit, put on a mask, and played a fruit role. The children worked in groups on the topic and did some reading and writing as well.

A similar approach was used for the topic 'Occupations in our community'. Children named the different occupations, imagined and role-played what they would like to be, discussed them in groups, read stories about them, and played a game matching pictures with tools. I always combine language skills in social studies lessons. I am still trying things out, and need to get our local community to understand that learning is not restricted to the classroom.


Q:What advice would you give to teachers who are hesitant to transform their classes from the traditional lecture, recitation-only method to other more dynamic ones that are based on MI principles?

A: I would say to them that if in their daily lives they can explore different ways of getting knowledge and information, and of doing things, then why not do the same with young learners? I would not advise complete abandonment of the lecture method and recitation as they have some merit. However, I would tell my reticent colleagues to start with what they feel is practical and workable, and progress from there, not to attempt everything all at once. As their insights and confidence develop, they will then be able to explore other learning modes and preferences.


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