Alternative Applications of MI in Education
In a nutshell, the multiple intelligence (MI) theory asserts that there is no such thing is a ‘stupid’ student. That may be a tremendous over-simplification of the very intricate and complex theory but is one of the most obvious, if not most important implications in education.
MI and Standardized Tests
MI claims that there are various areas of intelligence: rational, oral, spatial, visual, etc. and that every student may be weak in one area but in strong in another. What this implies is that using standardized tests tend to favour only those who are ‘intelligent’ in oral and written communication. As such, by their very nature, standard exams and other standardized modes of testing and evaluation focuses on only very specific types of intelligence. When a student fails in such exam it does not mean he or she is incompetent or poor but instead, he or she may be good in other forms of intelligence.
For instance, if one student finds math difficult while another does not, it is probably because they have different intelligence areas. It has nothing to do with math being difficult in and by itself. Similarly, those who are weak in reading comprehension may be completely good in mathematics. Of furthermore, they may be good at reading but they have find a hard time answering written reading comprehension tests but can do better in oral presentations Aside from arguing that there is no such thing as a stupid learner, it also indirectly and consequently argues that there is actually no such thing as difficult or easy subject only interesting ones, suitable teaching strategies and evaluation methods that matches students intelligence area and the type of test he or she is given.
Individualized Learning Styles and Criticisms of MI
The implications of the philosophy of course are controversial. Aside from arguing against standardization, MI also asserts the need for individualized approaches to teaching and learning. In other words, not only does multiple intelligence reject standard evaluation tools, it also rejects large-group instruction where a common teaching style is applied to heterogeneous learners with diverse backgrounds, preferences, experience and personality.
But one-on-one approaches are difficult to do in a classroom especially considering the sheer sizes of classes these days. Or even among small-groups, individualized teaching and measuring may not just be impractical but almost impossible.
Home Tuition as MI Bridge in Education
Home-based tutorials provide, if not an alternative, a supplementary means of education by providing individualized instruction to complement standardized formal education. In other words, it acknowledges the difficulty of applying MI in the classroom and therefore provides an avenue for its applications.
In terms of learning styles for instance, combined humanities tuition in Singapore uses language, literature and art topics as springboard or reference for developing more technical competencies in math and science. To roughly put it, Singapore combined humanities tuition helps improve computing and abstract skills through reading and art appreciation. This allows students to understand, even appreciate, abstract concepts through material that they can ‘relate’ to. This bridges expected learning competencies of formal school curriculum while at the same time recognizing the need to make lessons more cognizant with personal interests, learning styles and even preferences.
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