articles, opinions, and research about teaching and learning

Background on the use a Multiple Intelligences
approach in Pakistan

by Staneala M. Beckley

Related interviews with classroom teachers
are available from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Knowledge of how learning takes place is as important for teacher trainers and teachers as knowing how to teach content areas in the curriculum to children.

In a large number of classrooms, teachers still 'lecture' students and tell them what to do. Often the one and same method of teaching is applied to all the children at the same time, every day. In Pakistan, it is common to observe children reciting and committing to memory numbers, letters of the alphabet, and text with little or no understanding. The joy of learning and learning how to learn is absent in many classrooms.

Learning approaches based on scientific knowledge of the human body and how learning occurs help to determine what works best for the individual child so that his or her needs may be met in the most effective manner.

Like adults, children have capacities that can be tapped for optimal learning, of which many teachers are often unaware. A child could be wrongly labeled as not intelligent or smart simply because (s)he cannot perform a learning task in a way prescribed or expected by the teacher. If the teacher could observe or discover other channels or avenues through which learning can occur, much of the frustration that so-called 'dull' children experience could be removed, and a level playing field created for meeting the right to learn for all children.

Sound knowledge about the ways in which the human brain processes information and reacts to external stimuli is essential for teachers and teacher trainers so that they can begin to understand and apply the relevant principles in the classroom situation, draw out the individual child's potential and ensure effective learning.

It is important for teachers (and children as well) to know that intelligence is not a fixed attribute that a child is born with or without, but one that can be developed and enhanced, at any stage of one's life. Intelligence comes in many forms, not just one. The theory of 'Multiple Intelligences' is a theory that outlines seven ways in which we can acquire knowledge:

  1. Verbal / linguistic: thinks and learns through written and spoken words, communication, memory and recall
  2. Logical / mathematical: thinks and learns though scientific reasoning and calculation
  3. Visual / spatial: thinks and learns through imagination, mental images, and graphic representation
  4. Body / kinaesthetic: learns through movement, mind and body connections
  5. Musical / rhythmic: learns though sounds, rhythm, and music
  6. Interpersonal: learns best in groups, though co-operative work and relationships
  7. Intra-personal: learns through mental concentration, self-reflection, awareness and expression of different feelings

Teachers can be trained to observe and identify which of these types and combinations of intelligence are most active in the individual, to develop lesson plans and structure classroom management in ways to ensure active and effective learning for all children.

Teaching and learning based on Multiple Intelligences is one of the areas in which UNICEF Pakistan is providing support to the Government and NGOs to promote quality learning processes and outcomes.

For further information, contact:

Staneala M. Beckley,
Chief, Education Section,
UNICEF Pakistan Country Office,

Other related content at Teachers Talking are:

- The concept of seven intelligences
- Signs of learning styles
- Different kinds of thinking, learning, and knowing.

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Last revised February, 2001
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