In the ever changing world of research and theory, we are often times faced with a theorist who changes the world in their approach to better understand the complex human mind and its attributes. With this constant change comes newly developed theories and some all create complete chaos in the educational arena. One man that created what is still referred too by many as the most astounding research to date in the human learning paradigm is that of Howard Gardner and his eight multiple intelligences.
Gardner a Harvard researcher identified his MI (Multiple Intelligences) in 1983, and emerged them from recent cognitive research as a means to proving with documentation that students are capable of possessing different kinds of platforms when it comes to remembering, performing, and understanding concepts. He believed everyone has all of these intelligences and we differ only in our strength of invoking the usage of these intelligences. “Gardner says that these differences challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn that same material in the same way and that a uniform universal measure suffices to test student learning.” (Gardner 2004)
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If Gardner felt so strongly concerning a uniform universal measure, could it be said that the development of the multiple intelligences were attempts at creative a pedagogy that forces the schools too provide tiered teaching in structured classroom settings. Although tiered teaching is not a new concept, it was gaining momentum as has become one of the greatest teaching techniques for educators today.
In the educational setting, the only two that are tested regularly are linguistics, and logical-mathematical intelligences. Schools are constantly correctly poorly written and spoken grammar and providing assessments that forces students to use undeveloped auditory skills to produce correct answers and outcomes. When the logical-mathematics concepts are introduced, students are expected to retain formulas, logic games, investigations, and concepts that can present difficulties to the average learner based on their dominant learning style and the learned deficiencies that have not been properly addressed prior to this time.
Many people have found the acceptance of MI as a good concept, but some in the filed have challenged it as a illusory theory that has not been tested or validated. Gardner argued that IQ test have limited relevance to real life and contented that as humans we may function better with a concrete understanding of his eight multiple intelligences. Although his stance become popular with many educators, very little research has been conducted to establish the validity of his theory.
When comparing Howard Gardners theories to the current Common Core State Standards (known hereafter as CCSS), I want to take a look at the comparison of how the standards are involved in the educational system and how Mr.Gardner’s MI can be used in the CCSS curriculum.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) focuses on some major issues that had failed to be addressed before the CCSS were put in place. When teaching core concepts and procedures in the early grades, the objective of CCSS is to give teachers the time needed to properly teach the standards and also to give the students the time they need to master the material.
The standards were created with a closeness that reflects the current international models of education that are being used in numerous countries around the world. The research from a variety of sources was sought, including local educators from K- College, individual state departments of education, professional organizations, parents and students, and members of the general public.
Because their design and content have been refined through numerous drafts and rounds of state feedback, the standards represent a collection of the best practices of standards-related work in all states and other countries as of today.
While the standards set grade-specific goals, they do not define how the standards should be taught or which materials should be used to support students. The standards allow teachers the flexibility to teach using whatever method works best for them. Nowhere in the standards are there stringent guidelines that state how the teachers should introduce the lessons to the students. However, the standards are set as a guide of what materials should be covered in the lesson and what time frame the lesson materials should have been presented.
In Gardner’s MI theories, it is stated that the theories should be used as follows in the implementation.
Criteria for Identification of an Intelligence
“ * It should be seen in relative isolation in prodigies, autistic savants, stroke victims or other exceptional populations. In other words, certain individuals should demonstrate particularly high or low levels of a particular capacity in contrast to other capacities.
* It should have a distinct neural representation—that is, its neural structure and functioning should be distinguishable from that of other major human faculties
* It should have a distinct developmental trajectory. That is, different intelligences should develop at different rates and along paths which are distinctive.
* It should have some basis in evolutionary biology. In other words, an intelligence ought to have a previous instantiation in primate or other species and putative survival value.
* It should be susceptible to capture in symbol systems, of the sort used in formal or informal education.
* It should be supported by evidence from psychometric tests of intelligence.
* It should be distinguishable from other intelligences through experimental psychological tasks.
* It should demonstrate a core, information-processing system. That is, there should be identifiable mental processes that handle information related to each intelligence.”
(Gardner 1983; Kornhaber, Fierros, & Veneema, 2004)
It becomes the obligation of the students to master the materials, and move beyond what is being taught in class, to applying the materials to their life and careers beyond the walls of the school. Understanding this will be difficult for elementary school students and some middle school student as well, it is up to the states to define the full range of supports appropriate for these students success outside the classroom.
The CCSS were written to recognize that there will need to be a curve in learning for students with special needs and English language learners, therefore, they have placed supports in place to ensure that all students, including those with special needs and English language learners, can master the standards and the materials being presented by the teacher.
On the conservative side of the equation, the argument could come that the CCSS are to rigid and no two students should be expected to learn the same way, (thus supporting Gardner’s MI theories) let alone the same materials in a preset time frame. It puts too much pressure on the teacher and places them in a no win situation, when they are expected to facilitate all the different learning styles of the students from various backgrounds and experiences.
The CCSS clearly states “No set of grade-specific standards can fully reflect the great variety of abilities, needs, learning rates, and achievement levels of students in any given classroom. Importantly, the standards provide clear signposts along the way to the goal of college and career readiness for all students.” (CCSSI 2010)
Exactly how this goal is met, has not yet been revealed to many and thus the cause for alarm continues. In caparison MI of Howard Gardner and the CCSS, little to no comparison has been noted in results, achievement scores and comprehension of students. The difference is shown in areas of testing against other countries.
The US educational system continues to fall behind in areas of math and science compared to China and Japan and other Asian countries. If we don’t take the time to change and adjust the educational system in this country we will only hurt our next generation of learners and will be preparing them for a lifetime of under achievement and large debt.
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As concerns with CCSS continue to grow, one thing remains constant and that is CCSS allows teachers to be teachers. If affords them the luxury of giving the best information to the students helping them to be critical thinkers and trend setters. In the words of Frederick Douglas “it is easier to build strong children than to prepare broken men.”
I would like to see the CCSS curriculum as well as the implementation of the MI debate both continue, and if some areas need to be revisited and revised for more clarity, so be it.
I would strongly be against doing away with the system and taking the educational system in the US back to when it had no CCSS and relied strictly on other factors and questionable measurements of intellect.
If the system were to change I would also suggest instead of fighting to change the current system, create a new system that makes the current one obsolete.
- McGreal, S. (2013). The Illusory Theory of Multiple Intelligences: Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences Has Never Been Validated. Psychology Today.
- The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
- Katie Davis, Harvard University Joanna Christodoulou, Harvard University Scott Seider, Boston University Howard Gardner, Harvard University
- Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2010). Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
- Kornhaber, M. L., Fierros, E. G., & Veenema, S. A. (2004). Multiple intelligences: Best ideas from research and practice. Allyn & Bacon.
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