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Widening of the Net
In an era when education has been termed as a basic need and a fundamental right for each child, the society is committed to educate every child irrespective of his/her social status, individual attributes or abilities and talents. This heterogeneity must be seen as a challenge as well as an opportunity on the way to human resource development. It is a challenge since the education system as a whole has to gear to the gigantic requirements both qualitatively and quantitatively. Also a look at the vocational and professional scenario reflects ample opportunities for the deserving. Students, teachers and parents have to come out of the Engineer – Doctor- Manager Syndrome to avail of the diverse opportunities in construction and building industries, garment, leather and flower industries, entertainment and music industry, Sports, games and athletic industry and a host of openings in the service sector industries. These would call for, in addition to logical and mathematical abilities a number of other abilities. These may relate to verbal or linguistic ability to produce, appreciate as well as communicate effectively. Students having musical or rhythmic ability can be successful in T.V. shows, as music composers, musicians, entrepreneurial ventures in musical instruments and music industry, music software, etc. Those interested in the career as architects, painters, sculptors, artists, designers, interior decorators, etc. will have to polish their spatial ability. Similarly those aspiring to try their luck in sports or entertainment industry as successful athlete, good player, agile gymnast, dancer, actor, etc. will require abilities to control one’s body movements and handle objects skillfully. Generic skills like intra and interpersonal skills, leadership qualities, entrepreneurial skills, negotiation skills and management skills are essential to become successful in life particularly as counsellors, teachers, politicians, psychiatrists, religious leaders, etc. Unfortunately neither teachers nor students are aware of the vast opportunities available in the market. Consequently large number of differently- abled but gifted children can not avail of the opportunities and end up in routine jobs without any job or self satisfaction. If only their talents are recognized and nurtured properly by the education system, the economy can benefit from their intelligences.
Concept of Intelligence
What is Intelligence? “Defining intelligence is an endeavour that has long consumed the human mind. In ancient Greece, Plato believed that humans were largely ignorant and that the knowledge they acquired was only an insignificant abstraction of a much larger and perfect truth. In fact, Plato claimed he could only be considered smart because he was aware of his own ignorance” (Silver, Strong, Perini, 2000). Aristotle, Plato’s successor and student, disagreed with his teacher. He claimed that humans were capable of two great mental abilities-quickly understanding causes and situations, and making good moral choices.
Buddhist philosophy speaks of three qualities of mind – Wisdom, Morality and Meditation that guide humans to correctly view, think about, and act in the world around them. “Later, Renaissance thinkers as diverse as Niccolo Machiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci and Thomos More brought human capacities of reason and creativity back to the foreground, portraying them as forces capable of controlling and even remaking the world” (Silver, Strong, Perini, 2000).
It would be safe to say that no other Century has seen such a shift in the definition of the intelligence as we have in the 20th Century. The Century saw the advent of psychometric indicators of intelligence, such as IQ testing.
Over a long period, intelligence was considered as a unitary concept labelled by general intelligence (g). Psychologists mentioned that intelligence can be measured and quantified. Binet (1905) developed IQ test to determine Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of an individual. It was held that on the basis of one’s intelligence quotient, his/her academic performance can be predicted. Higher the I.Q. of an individual, the higher is the academic achievement.
“Whether intelligence is an unitary attribute or multiple/ multifaceted?” Psychologists who have studied Intelligence over the years have shown sharp disagreement on this issue. Spearman (1927) was of the view that performance on any cognitive task depended on a primary general factor (Which he termed “g”), and one or more specific factors (which he termed “S”)
J.P. Guilford and his associates have organized the primary intellectual abilities into a structure of intellect. They placed them into three broad categories namely Process or Operation, Material or Content and Product. To Guilford each of these intellectual abilities or structures are interlinked. According to Guilford the dimensions of intelligence may be extended much further.
Evidences thus far obtained go to establish the fact that ‘Intelligence is a basic ability that affects performance on all cognitively oriented tasks. Moderate to high positive correlations found among all the different tests that are designed to measure separate intellectual abilities indicate in this direction, (Carroll,1993; McNemar,1964). One comes across another view in this context from the theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence as propounded by Cattell, 1963 and Horn, 1998. Fluid Intelligence is mental efficiency that is essentially culture-free and nonverbal. This aspect of intelligence increases until adolescence then declines gradually with age. Fluid Intelligence is sensitive to injuries. In contrast Crystallized Intelligence, the ability to apply culturally approved problem-solving methods, can increase throughout the life span (Woolfolk,2004) By investing fluid intelligence in solving problems, we develop our crystallized intelligence, but many tasks in life such as mathematical reasoning draw on both fluid and crystallized intelligence (Hunt, 2000 and Sattler, 2001).
The Howard Gardner theory of multiple intelligences brings us to our latest step in the evolutionary history of intelligence. The concept of intelligence was changed profoundly because of the way in which Gardner expanded the parameters of intelligent behaviour to include a diversity of human abilities.
Gardner’s process is different from IQ testing or other means of measuring intelligence. Rather than looking for a single, quantifiable measurement of intelligence, Gardner’s method explores the way in which particular cultures value individuals and the way individuals create different products or serve their cultures in various capacities.
Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence (V) manifests itself in the ability to manipulate words for a variety of purposes: debate, persuasion, storytelling, poetry, prose writing and instruction. People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence often love to play with words and use such devices as puns, metaphors, similes, and the like. Very often people who have strong verbal-linguistic intelligence can read for hours at a time. Their auditory skills tend to be highly developed, and they learn best when they can speak, listen, read, or write (Maya Angelou, William Shakespeare).
Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (L) they are usually good at finding patterns, establishing cause-and-effect relationships, conducting controlled experiments, and sequencing, Generally, they think in terms of concepts and questions and love to put ideas to the test (Albert Einstein, Marie, Curie).
Spatial Intelligence (S) involves a high capacity for perceiving, creating and re-creating pictures and images. Photographers, artists, engineers, architects, and sculptors all use spatial intelligence. People who are spatially intelligent are keenly perceptive of even slight visual details, can usually sketch ideas out with graphs, tables, or images, and are often able to convert words or impressions into mental images. Spatially intelligent people think in images and have a keen sense of location and direction (Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso).
Musical Intelligence (M) is the ability to produce melody and rhythm, as well as to understand, appreciate and form opinions about music. People who are able to sing in key keep tempo, analyze musical forms, or create musical expression all exhibit musical intelligence. Musically intelligent people are sensitive to all types of nonverbal sound and the rhythms of everyday noise (Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Rabindra Nath Tagore).
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (B) is related to the physical self and the manipulation of one’s own body. Those who are kinesthetically intelligence can generally handle objects or make precise bodily movements with relative ease. Their tactile sense is usually well developed and they enjoy physical challenges and pursuits. These learners learn best by doing, moving and acting things out (Jackie Robinson, Jim Thorpe).
Interpersonal Intelligence (P) is at work in people who are naturally social, interpersonally intelligent people work well with others and are quite sensitive to slight variations in people’s moods, attitudes and desires. Often, interpersonally intelligent people are friendly and outgoing. Most people with this intelligence know how to gauge, identify with, and react to the temperaments of others. They are generally excellent team players and managers and they learn best when they can relate to other people (Oprah Winfrey, Martin, Luther King, Jr.).
Intrapersonal Intelligent (I) is the ability to gain access to one’s own feelings and emotional states. Intrapersonal intelligent people usually choose to work on their own, as they use and trust their self-understanding to guide them. They are in touch with their inner feelings and are able to form realistic goals and conceptions of themselves (Mahatma Gandhi, Carl Jung).
Naturalist Intelligence (N) The eighth and most recent intelligence validated by Gardner’s research is the Naturalist Intelligence (N). This intelligence is found in those who are highly attuned to the natural world of plants and animals as well as to natural geography and natural objects like rocks, clouds and stars. People who have a high naturalist intelligence love to be outdoors and tend to notice patterns, features and anomalies in the ecological settings they encounter. They are adept at using these patterns and features to classify and categorize natural objects and living things. Those with the naturalist intelligence show an appreciation for, and a deep understanding of, the environment (Charles Darwin, George Washington Carver). (Huggins et al 1997)
Research over the last ten years provided significant information regarding the fact that student’s learn and process information in many different ways. Further Sue Teele adds that all students can learn and succeed but not in the same way and not on the same day” (Sue Teele, 2004). This is a very powerful statement that must be strongly addressed in the education system. Most students are capable of learning and achieving higher academic expectations, but not all students are able to succeed in tasks exactly in the same way and many cannot achieve at the same time.
It is important that instruction focuses on the diverse ways in which students learn. For example, when young children are learning to read, write, speak, and listen, it is often the case that they are capable of learning and comprehending concepts, but may require that the information be presented in several different ways or at a different time. Some children may not hear and understand in a auditory way as they begin to read and may need to learn through music, rhythms and rhymes, pictures, or acting things out.
If students are not taught by methods that allow them to understand information being presented, they may not able to comprehend and retain that information. Sue further adds that if the learning material is not presented in ways that students can understand, their learning can be delayed, which often leads to frustration. Students must experience academic success at an early age otherwise they would become discouraged or may stop trying to learn and begin to shut down educationally. (Sue Tele, 2004)
The multiple intelligence theory highlights that there are eight pathways to learning. Learners differ in their learning style depending upon their dominant intelligences. When teacher’s instructional practice matches students’ different learning styles, every student in the class would learn optimally. This would drastically check the dropout rate or may even wipe it out. This would facilitate the achievement of long cherished goal. Teachers’ instructional practices would further nurture children’s intelligences.
All students must learn to read, write and listen in order to perform effectively and successfully in society. They should also acquire necessary life skills. For this, student must complete at least elementary education spanning over a period of 8 years of schooling. This is highly essential for each child for his/her growth and economic progress of the country. Teachers teaching in a variety of ways would facilitate the achievement of the long cherished goal – Quality Elementary Education for All. This would also nurture children’s different intelligences.
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