Typically, when we think of learning, we think of textbooks, lectures, worksheets, classrooms, and the like. However, any real definition of learning should be much broader than that. Using Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, we see that it is possible to learn through all eight of his intelligences. For example, if we wanted to learn a new vocabulary word, say, the word lacustrine, here are some methods we might use:
- Word Smart – look it up in the dictionary;
- Number/Logic Smart – analyze the root ”lac” (e.g. French lac, English lake etc.);
- Picture Smart – create an image in our head of a lake and ”place” the word over it;
- Body Smart – make a circle with outstretched arms like a lake and say the word;
- Music Smart – spell the word out loud in a rhythmic way (or to recorded music);
- Self Smart – create a personal association (e.g. a summer trip to the lakes);
- People Smart – use the word when talking with other people;
- Nature Smart – associating the word to something in nature (no brainer: a lake).
You can use this essentially same approach to learn vocabulary words, spelling words, mathematical algorithms, history facts, science concepts, and more. The key questions to ask are:
- How can I learn this through words (spoken or written)?
- How can I learn this through numbers and/or logic?
- How can I learn this through pictures and images?
- How can I learn this through physical movements or gestures?
- How can I learn this through music and/or rhythm?
- How can I learn this through personal emotional memories?
- How can I learn this through making social connections?
- How can I learn this through experiences in nature?
For more information about using Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences to learn new things, 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.
Follow me on Twitter: @Dr_Armstrong.