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Kansas Gilligan



Howard Gardner and My Philosophy of Education


My personal belief about teaching and learning is that every student can learn when given the appropriate scaffolding for his or her needs. My experience has proven that no two students learn in the same way and therefore we need to adapt our teaching strategies and lessons to reflect students’ abilities. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences is the theory that best supports my beliefs.

Howard Gardner believes that there are at least seven ways in which people perceive and understand the world (Funderstanding). He calls these the Multiple Intelligences and they are:


  1. Verbal Linguistic
  2. Logical – Mathematical
  3. Visual – Spatial
  4. Body – Kinesthetic
  5. Musical – Rhythmic
  6. Interpersonal
  7. Intrapersonal


Although this list is not exhaustive, it is the best way to describe the ways in which we process the information around us.  Gardner says that we all have each of these intelligences in us, just some more than others (Smith). Therefore, to say that one who is verbal cannot be musical would be incorrect. 

Schools seem to focus a lot of energy on Literacy and Math, and for some students this works well. What about those students who are not high in those intelligences? What do we do?  How do you explain gravity to someone who is not a Spatial learner? You drop a water balloon out the classroom window! How do you explain the layout of a seigneural system to a visual learner? You have them recreate it with Popsicle sticks.

This theory is very easy to accommodate in the classroom. By incorporating these different intelligences into lessons and assessments, students can work at their best. Two children can demonstrate the same concepts by performing two different tasks. A child who is higher in Verbal Linguistic Intelligence may write a poem about the effects of the War of 1812, whereas a student who is more musical could write a song. Both students are able to provide the same information, however the way in which they deliver that knowledge is different.

In every assignment that I give my students, there are at least four choices.  If a student is not interested in any of those choices, they are welcome to come to me and make a suggestion.  Children need choice and they need to be engaged. Think of that ADHD child in your classroom and ask yourself if he would have such a hard time if he were allowed to act out that scene from Romeo and Juliet, rather than write an essay on it.





Multiple Intelligences. 1998. Funderstanding. Feb. 28, 2009. <>


Smith, Mark K. (2002, 2008) 'Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences', the encyclopedia of informal education, <>




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