Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences suggests that there are ”learning disabilities” in each of the eight intelligences. For Word Smart, there’s ”dyslexia” or difficulty decoding the printed word. For Music Smart there’s ”dysmusia,” when a person can’t sing on tune, has poor rhythm, and/or lacks a good musical memory.
For Number/Logic Smart, there’s ”dyscalculia,” which is difficulty doing basic math calculations. And there are examples of disabilities in other intelligences as well (for Picture Smart and People Smart, for example, there’s ”prosopagnosia,” which is difficulty recognizing peoples’ faces).
The biggest problem that I see, however, after 50 years as an educator, is with ”dysteachia.” This is the inability of educators (and parents) to recognize the learning strengths of their kiddos and use those strengths to help them with things they have difficulty doing. So, for the Picture Smart kid who has Word Smart difficulties, teaching phonemic awareness through images is one way to approach their learning (e.g. the letter ”s” as a snake who says the sound ”sssssss”).
For the Body Smart kid who has problems spelling, there’s an activity where the child spells the word out loud while standing up on the consonants and sitting down on the vowels. The important thing here, is that if a child is having difficulty in school, they don’t need to be given more concentrated doses of what they’re failing at, but rather should be approached with strength-based learning tools and activities that help them succeed and prosper as a learner.
For more information about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, get my practical guides to multiple intelligences for:
- Adult learners (7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences)
- Educators who teach children and adolescents — kindergarten through high school (Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 4th edition) and/or
- Parents (In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Multiple Intelligences).
This blog post was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and www.institute4learning.com.
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