Teaching With Joy

March 2004


Learning Styles
by Joy Jones

     In our society, someone who is fluent and articulate or who writes well is regarded as intelligent.  However, the student who is a skilled athlete may be termed a dumb jock, the child who works well with his hands may be discounted as not college material, the girl who gets along with everyone is regarded as an air head and although the math whiz is acknowledged as smart, we may assume she has a dull personality.  Each of these students is intelligent, but in different ways.

     Author and psychologist Howard Gardner says there are many human intelligences:  verbal/linguistic intelligence, logical/mathematical intelligence, musical/rhythmic intelligence, visual/spatial intelligence, bodily/kinesthetic intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, interpersonal intelligence and natural intelligence.  Wise teachers build on the multiple intelligences displayed by their students and instruct in a way that acknowledges that there are a variety of learning styles present in the classroom.

     Although there are a variety of learning styles, too often teachers have only one teaching style.  Teaching to multiple learning styles may require more effort on your part, but itís more fun - not just for students, but for you, too.  Reading and writing to share information and to show mastery of said information is important, but itís far more interesting to have a lesson that involves making a project, leading a demonstration, conducting an experiment, being dramatic or playing a game.

     What can you do for tomorrow's class to tap the intelligence of every student?

Joy Jones is a third generation teacher, a playwright and the author of Between Black Women: Listening With the Third Ear, the acclaimed childrenís book, Tambourine Moon, and Private Lessons: A Book of Meditations for Teachers.  You may view her web site at: www.JoyJonesOnline.com.

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