Even before Howard Gardners conceptualization of the theory of multiple intelligences (MI), good teachers knew that students had many different strengths and ways of learning. Those good teachers modified their curriculum and teaching as they were able, but it was all done rather intuitively. Gardner changed how we view intelligence and how we look at children, but did not provide a strategy for bringing MI to life.
In the nearly 25 years since Gardners Frames Of Mind was published, many educators and authors have taken their hand to providing tools and strategies for teachers. Still, there often remain many questions about implementing MI. MI in Practice will definitely help to fill that void. It is an excellent compendium of theory, practice, reflection, suggestions and anecdotes.
In these pages, a teacher shares her experiences of using MI for an entire school year, and other teachers offer case studies. I came away wanting to meet these teachers and wanting to share their ideas with my faculty members. Their experiences, coupled with Mikes creativity and encompassing view of MI, create a wonderful resource.
Mike notes that his pupils referred to him as intelligence man, and after reading this book, it is easy to see why. Mike not only understands MI and how it can be used to help students and teachers succeed, he lives MI. By that, I mean that he clearly recognizes that we are all unique, and he reflects that appreciation in his attitudes and practices. His approach is not prescriptive in any way but filled with suggestions for how to work with students and their parents.
To be fair, Mike also recognizes the realities that teachers face each day. Children dont always come to school ready to learn; parents arent always supportive and understanding; school administrators can be rigid and critical. And, oh yes, the government seems overly focused on percentiles. Given this context, implementing MI can be a challenge. Yet it is precisely because of this context that MI can be such a wonderful tool. MI is not a panacea, but it can bring life and success to every classroom.
This book demystifies both what MI is and how it can be used. It provides concrete examples and, at the same time, serves as a bit of a cheerleader for the reader. A practising educator, Mike knows that it is harder to do MI than to describe it. These pages are full of examples, some self-effacing humour and lots of encouragement. Perhaps Mikes attitude can be summed up in his statement, MI is your potential to think, act, solve problems and create valuable things in eight and a half (nine) different, equally valuable ways. As set out in this book, MI is more than an add-on or something to be done this week or this month; rather, MI becomes a new way to look at learners, to think about teaching, and to reflect on our profession.
Tom Hoerr is the Head of the New City School in St Louis, USA, where multiple intelligences theory has been implemented since 1988. He is the author of Becoming a Multiple Intelligences School and The Art of School Leadership (both ASCD). He can be contacted at email@example.com.