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The concept of seven intelligences

(This section is taken from Multiple ways of teaching and learning: Concept and application strategy, a guidebook for primary teachers published by the National Curriculum and Text Book Board of Bangladesh.)

Children and adults learn in different ways. They have different learning styles that correspond to the intelligences in which they are particularly strong. Some children learn best through reading and taking notes, others through visuals, still others through body movement or musical activities. Some like to work on problems individually while others like to interact to find solutions.

Professor Howard Gardner, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard University, stated in his book, Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences, that a human being has at least seven intelligences. Humans usually rely on one intelligence as their main way of learning; however, they often use more than one, or use different intelligences for different purposes. Depending on the situation and the content to be learned, a person may rely on his/her reading and writing ability. However, in a different situation with different content to be learned, he/she may rely on body movement to learn.

Often the type of intelligence a person is using to learn a new skill o acquire new knowledge can be determined through the person's behaviour or personality traits. For example, if a person like to read and write, that person uses verbal/linguistic intelligence to learn; or if a person likes to use manipulative (objects) to learn or explain a concept, that person uses body/kinaesthetic intelligence to learn. By observing a child, a teacher can determine what his/he primary style for learning is. Knowing a child's primary learning style, a teacher can make the lesson material me readily accessible to the child. Thus, children will learn more easily and have joyful learning experiences in the classroom.

The seven intelligences are:

    - verbal / linguistic

    - logical / mathematical

    - visual / spatial

    - musical / rhythmic

    - body / kinaesthetic

    - interpersonal

    - intrapersonal

For information about recognising different styles of learning, go to Signs of learning styles.

Journal activity: Your learning styles

Observe and summarise your predominant style of learning.

Review the list of learning styles, and note down which style or styles you enjoy most. Over the course of the next week, refine your observation: which styles do you enjoy consistently? Which did you enjoy most when you were a child?

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Last revised April, 1999
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