Frames of Mind

Inclusive Learning with Multiple Intelligences: we are all unique in our own way

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‘Every child matter’ was the bold statement that put out a strong message for all teachers: a fact that subsequently continue to reverberate through inclusive learning and differentiation in the classroom in the modern day classroom. The child-focused initiative launched by the then British Labour Government in a green paper to be followed by the Children’s Act 2004 highlights that the classroom is full of individuals all with their learning abilities, methods, and idiosyncrasies. Improving and progressing, the all-inclusive learning experience for students developed further with the ‘Developing and Embedding Inclusive Policy and Practice of Higher Education’ which was launched in 2007. One example of this 2007 policy’s holistic outlook focuses on the courses that are being studied, and that the approach by teachers could be obstructing the learning of the students that do not include all individuals. Thus, teachers adapting the classes to all complements each student. This would demonstrate that inclusive learning and differentiation are paramount and are a dominant force for change that tries to give empowering success in every student. This brings forth, and the focus of this piece of writing, the ideas of the American psychologist Howard Gardner and his theory of Multiple Intelligences, from his book Frames of Mind (1983): looking after the needs of all students and their unique learning and performing methods in the classroom. Basically stated one student could work better by using their practical knowledge while another by their theoretical knowledge; recognising the fact that these two students are learning the same subject matter. I will further discuss the attributes of Multiple Intelligences highlighting first that individuals have cognitive nuances and hidden abilities, moving onto an example of a kinesthetic model that has the students actively working on the subject matter. I will then talk about creating interest for the students through their understanding of the lesson and also onto the actual students’ intelligence and the teacher underestimating them. I will finally discuss going beyond the norm for teachers and them not taking classes or the individual students for granted.

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A look at teaching methodology over the last 30 years

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Second language teaching can be employed in many ways and is born from many theories hypothesizing how we acquire language through the process of first or second language acquisition. Central to these theories of language acquisition was the emergence of the concept of “methods” of language teaching. It is this language teaching coupled with its methodology I will discuss in this paper notwithstanding that teaching methods can not be applied if we do not understand how students gather all the information for their language acquisition. Methodology can be fundamentally sound but if we (the teachers) do not understand the minds of our students that much clearer, all the hard teaching work will be fruitless. Methodology in teaching in all it forms originates from questions the teacher asks himself about the students and learning environment such as: Who are the learners? What exactly do they do? For what purpose are the students learning the language? In what setting are the students learning?,  With what kinds of language?, In what patterns of social interaction? , and also what are the particular outcomes in terms of quantity/quality of language use, attitudes, and motivation? This is not forgetting the teacher who must consider the design features of his lesson that might include such points as: stated objectives, syllabus specifications, and type of activities, roles of teachers, learners, and materials. These are the sort of questions and ideas that are congruent with referring to a methodology for teaching and will help with answering the question for this paper; what is teaching methodology? I will also generally try to focus on teaching methodology over the last thirty years.

To begin with, teaching methodology in all its forms helps the students in their acquisition of language. Our knowledge of the student and his learning is fundamental with respect to a proficient teaching method. We only need to look at one of the most influential researchers in the language field of developmental psychology. [1]Jean Piaget (1896-1980) explains this point a bit more. He helped posit many theories (which are discussed later in this paper). Piaget became interested in how children think. He recognised that the children’s answers were qualitatively different from the older children’s. This, of course, he recognised, did not mean the younger ones were less smart. The children answered the questions differently because they thought differently. Influential research like Piaget’s is the kind of recognition of students’ learning and capabilities that a teaching methodology has to adapt to. It is a focus like this, that I hope to put across in this paper. Teaching methodology works in many ways and has to deal with a myriad of learning styles and ages.

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