Taking Gardner's Ideas Into the Classroom

HOWARD GARDNER is an academic, and his books bear the stamp of academia.

"Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice" includes the typically lengthy bibliography and cross references to scholarly research. Yet this is a book firmly grounded in educational experiments based on Professor Gardner's theory of seven different kinds of intelligence. These practical assessments offer many insights into the modern classroom.

Gardner criticizes the concept of "uniform schooling" and promotes a more individual approach to education. "Serious consideration of a wide range of human intelligences leads to a new view of education that I have termed `individual-centered education,' " he writes.

In Indianapolis, a group of teachers created a school based on multiple-intelligence theory. The Key School is now in its sixth year.

"One of its founding principles is the conviction that each child should have his or her multiple intelligences (`MI') stimulated each day," Gardner writes. The arts play an important role in the school, and students frequently work on projects in groups.

Gardner's Arts PROPEL program has introduced a new approach to arts education. In 1985, he joined with the Educational Testing Service and Pittsburgh Public Schools to devise an assessment process for artistic learning.

Students work on projects and create a "processfolio" that shows their drafts, revisions, and final products. This program has now been adopted by several schools across the United States.

Project Spectrum, another Gardner initiative, is a long-term research effort focusing on preschoolers. Various learning areas are set up in a preschool classroom and the students are given opportunities to explore all of the materials.

"Teachers and researchers can observe the students throughout the year to see their profile of intelligences at work and play," Gardner writes.

Much of Gardner's work during the past 10 years has focused on changing the approach to testing in schools.

He proposes changing the college-admissions process to emphasize a "portfolio" approach instead of standardized tests. Students would submit a collection of their academic work for evaluation. "The penchant for testing in America has gone too far," he writes.

Essentially, Gardner would like to see testing become part of the learning process rather than a separate system.

Gardner tends to overstate the potential for applications of his theory. He writes, for example, that multiple-intelligence theory will provide "a better chance of dealing appropriately with the many problems that we face in the world."

But the impact of Gardner's theory on education is unquestionable. This book provides both a thorough introduction to his ideas and a worthwhile update for those already familiar with his work.

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