Saturday, January 21, 2006

MI disorder

A teacher in Denver writing in the NYT education forum illustrates the absurd lengths to which Gardner's so-called multiple intelligences are taken by educationists:

While you are on this one, my American History class is heterogeneous.

We know that there are seven separate and distinct learning modalities.

Kindly tell us how you will differentiate your teaching so that the tactile, auditory, visual, and kinetic [sic] learners will come away with the same knowledge as the readers and writers.
I would like to see how this teacher would teach history in the purely tactile and kinesthetic mode. At some point there has to be exposure to words, either by reading or listening. It's also dubious that people can be pigeonholed into one mode to the exclusion of other modes.

I also find it ironic that on the one hand educationists rail against expository instruction and on the other hand they show concern for "auditory" learners.

See here for a link to Willingham's debunking of modality theory. In Willingham's priceless observation, students learn best when content is presented in the subject's best modality.


elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Amen! Some units don't lend themselves to dancing.

The Teacher said...

Can a theory be debunked by portraying it as such an extreme? I probably would have had more success in PE if they had explained some strategies or let me read about it first (What this "Eye on the Ball" is All About) instead of getting "purely tactile and kinesthetic" lessons.

NYC Educator said...

I think we should place an absolute ban on all educators who you can't figure out what the hell they're talking about. And if you can figure it out, but determine it wasn't worth it, they should be banned anyway.

Perhaps we could send them off into an enclosed space together where they'd have to listen to one another speak for a long time.

That would teach 'em. Maybe.

Catherine Johnson said...

I never thought of it that way!

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

One of the things about all this "Learning modalities" crap is that we all need all the modalities-- but I, a potential bookworm, need to get out and move, while the athlete on my left will never get anywhere if she can't read the playbook.

More warm and cuddly excuses for mediocrity.

Myrtle said...

I will never be able to read anything about multiple intelligences again and keep a straight face after The Onion came out with their "Nasal Learners" spoof.

Anonymous said...

My students learned far more about the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac by a session that put it all in motion than any class in the past has EVER learned through lecture only. Some things lend themselves well to the "bodily kinesthetic" intelligence. Of course, it is so much easier to poke fun at it than to learn how to incorporate it.

rightwingprof said...

Personally, I think contrastive rhetoric is even nuttier. But that could be just because I have sat through so many nonsensical CR paper presentations, and been driven so nuts by them.