The Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Preteens

September 19, 2011 — 1 Comment

If you didn’t already know, I’m a nerd. When something catches my interest, I really want to study it and research it to learn more. In college, I did research for my final thesis on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Here is a little background…

In 1983, Howard Gardner put forth the idea of Multiple Intelligences. The theory of Multiple Intelligences is met with skepticism due to lack of research, but many educational systems still use components of his theory. Gardner suggests that intelligence goes beyond simply reading and writing.  Gardner’s theory proposed 8 abilities in which “intelligence” could be measured.  They are:

  • Logical-Mathematical—learns through the use of reasoning, patterns, and numbers (computer programmer, detective) 
  • Spatial—learns through use of visualizing and designing with the mind’s eye (architect) 
  • Linguistic—learns through use of words, written and/or spoken (author)
  •  Bodily-Kinesthetic—learns through the use of movement, motions, and activity (athlete)
  •  Musical—learns through the use of music, rhythm, and music theory (musician)
  • Interpersonal—learns through the interaction with others (sales person)
  • Intrapersonal—learns through the act of self-reflection (psychologists, lawyers)
  • Naturalistic—learns through relating information to natural surroundings (farmer, agriculturist)

That’s a really brief and insufficient explanation of the theory, but you can read tons more about it—the good and the bad—by googling it. It will have to do for this blog. My research into this theory was how it could be implemented in ministry curriculum to help kids better understand God’s Truth.  I think it has great potential to be used in churches and to better the learning experience of all age groups, but ESPECIALLY PRETEENS!

Sunday, we put it into practice.  We were wrapping up a unit with 5th graders on spiritual warfare.  As a review, we set up 5 stations and allowed students to choose their activity for the day. The stations were: Music, Body, Numbers, Words, and Pictures.  If a student chose Music, then they were given a passage of scripture relating to spiritual warfare and asked to create a song or rap that shared what they had learned from the passage.  Each station did similar activities relating to that form of “intelligence,” or as we called it “learning style.” 

As a Preteen Pastor, I know the struggle it is to get this age group to participate and really engage in a project. We often force them to all do the same things and the results are horrendous.  By allowing them to choose the activity, we saw what their natural preferences or learning styles were.  And since they chose the station, we had no problem getting them to actively participate.  The result…AMAZING!  There were incredible stories written, very talented rappers showed their rhyming skills, beautiful artwork, awesome skits, and really cool puzzles/riddles—all of which showed that the students understood what we had been teaching. And even better, it showed that they were able to share that knowledge with other students through their chosen learning style.

I’m excited to keep researching and integrating this into our curriculum.  There’s not enough space here to share all that we did or all that we’re planning, but I’d love share more or answer questions. If you’d like to know more, send me a tweet or leave a comment below.

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