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How do we apply the theory of Multiple Intelligences in Singapore? Pt 3

Updated on July 5, 2011

This hub is a continuation of How do we apply the theory of Multiple Intelligences in Singapore? Pt 2

A teacher teaching a class of choristers may use a Broadway musical to teach Literature, making the subject more accessible to these students who in return feel less threatened by the subject matter and are more willing to participate and clarify doubts when they are confused. When students learn that a particular subject can be approached from several angles, they appreciate the dynamism of knowledge and become more confident in their own ability to interpret and comprehend newly learnt information. Also, this opens the avenue for teachers to employ creative ways such as performances (besides traditional examinations) to assess how much students have mastered their content based on their different intelligences. (Gardner,1995).

One misconception of MI is that intelligence type is necessarily the child's learning style (Gardner, 1995). MI constructs intelligence as an inborn capability that naturally orients a person towards particular knowledge type (like mathematical concepts or language sounds) while learning style is the preference one has towards acquiring knowledge. A musically intelligent individual may find decoding harmony or music structure concepts second nature to him, but he might not grasp chemical equations very deeply if they were merely sung to him.

Gardner (1995) even advocated that schools should adopt individualised teaching for each child, through teacher-student interaction and the use of computer technology. This would take into account each child's unique intelligence blueprint, as standard 'one-size-fits-all' approaches in education neglect the majority of students. While I agree with the demerits of large classrooms sizes, I think we would miss out on the merits of social interaction with one's peer group if schools were structured like a personal tuition centre with social interaction taking place only before and after official hours, during which typical Singaporean children attend outside remedial or enrichment classes. Re-looking at CCA-mates who study together demonstrates the power of iron sharpening iron – track-and-field members reinforce their concept of projectile motion when they analyse it through the action of throwing a javelin. Although MOE has been increasing the number of arts and music teachers (MOE, 2003), examining the 'music teacher'-to-'students with musical intelligence' ratio tells us that we lack qualified teachers, as most schools only have 2 music teachers. Personalizing education may be possible in future especially with technology, but I believe that schools should develop a student's intellectual development without forsaking his physical, moral and social development.

Although MI does not explicitly predict social, moral or affective impact on students, motivation theories and our personal experience tell us that students are more likely to perform better in school when they are motivated and sufficiently engaged. In Harvard's Project Zero where MI is studied, numerous studies show the advantages of MI impact both students and educators. When students find school exciting, teachers are encouraged and inspired to teach more passionately. In 41 MI schools, 78% had improved their standardized achievement scores of which 63% credited "practices inspired by MI theory." In fact, 78% of the schools experienced better performances by students with learning difficulties, 80% had increased parental involvement and 81% reported decreased discipline problems (Hoerr, 2002).

Next: How do we apply the theory of Multiple Intelligences in Singapore? Pt 4


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