Thursday, June 01, 2006

IT tizzy and Multiple Intelligences - Ha! NOT stupid!

The visitor counter came back! Can anyone tell me what might cause this 'now you see me, now you don't, now you do' phenomenon? Is this an Etisalat thing too, or do servers get too busy and start dropping things?

Because I basically cannot grasp computer stuff beyond the most basic operations I follow installation and function directions really carefully. When I hit obstacles I very rapidly work through increasing levels of frustration and anxiety out of all proportion to what I'm trying to achieve, e.g. make it go. I am repeatedly shown that I am stupid and incompetent; it is certainly clear that I'm powerless; and after half an hour of this, I'm experiencing the keyboard version of road rage - the socially acceptable female version that converts violent urges into hissy fit and tears. I have been so proud of myself for setting up this blog, installing bits and bobs on it, and learning how to do strike-through, import images, work through Blogroller and Blogger; which makes it doubly frustrating when I run into trouble again, and I can't tell if it's me or IT!

I think that I'm better with practicalities than concepts: if it takes a needle, a wheelbarrow, a power drill, a stepladder or masking tape, I'm in my element. My brain processes what my senses tell me, and my muscles go into action, continually driven and moderated by that interface between senses and mind. If I 'simply' have to press a key and select, I'm stuffed if it goes wrong, because I cannot make the link between cause and effect. Perhaps I should learn how to write code. Seriously! I also only ever grasp a fraction of remote control functions, and my mobile phone is a device I use for exchanging calls and text messages. Only!

When Habibibaba was small, he showed real skill with Duplo, and when he was ready (i.e. in possession of the fine motor skills necessary to handle small pieces, and sufficient sense not to stick them up his nose) we started buying him Lego. In time Habibi brought out his own childhood Lego from the days of Red and White and the collection grew. Habibibaba could build anything, problem-solve, invent - it was lovely to see!

I share the common visceral need to do the best for our children, but I don't believe in hot-housing. It strikes me as early immersion in a high-pressure success culture, and inherently counter-productive. I think it's better to offer resources and encouragement (ok - to get down and play too!) and space to explore them, discover their possibilities and, in so doing, discover personal gifts and interests; that way lies self-knowledge and a capacity for fun and serenity as well as skill. I'm also very keen on the idea of bringing up a habibibaba who can interpret and implement the instructions on everything from Ikea flatpack furniture to a home theatre system, but that's only part of it - ok?!

I was fascinated to discover Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences. Take a look! This is no academic fad dressed in high-falutin jargon - work back from your own experience and observations and it makes very good sense. Here's an excerpt from a unit on Multiple Intelligences from Connexions, an exciting website that I've literally just found. (Can't do buttons, but revel in Internet access!). It's by Fred Mednick of Teachers Without Borders - which has to be a good thing.

Here we go.

"Is intelligence innate? Genetic? Fixed?

Generally, this is how intelligence has been viewed - as a quantity. Recently, new views have emerged with enormous implications for education. This new perspective asserts that intelligence can be measured in different ways, that it grows, and it is more quality than quantity.

It used to be that the question was asked: "Is s/he smart?" New questions now ask: " How is s/he smart?" The emphasis is on the various ways in which we demonstrate multiple intelligences, rather than a single intelligence. The readings and assignments that follow discuss multiple intelligences, provide an opportunity for you to apply them, and a way of determining how to assess students.

Howard Gardner created a list of seven intelligences. The first two are ones that have been typically valued in schools; the next three are usually associated with the arts; and the final two are what Howard Gardner called "personal intelligences."

Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals. This intelligence includes the ability to effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically, and language as a means to remembering information. Writers, poets, lawyers, and speakers are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high linguistic intelligence.

Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. In Howard Gardner's words, it entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively, and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.

Musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. According to Howard Gardner musical intelligence runs in an almost structural parallel to linguistic intelligence.

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one's whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements. Howard Gardner sees mental and physical activity as related.
Spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas.

Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others. Educators, salespeople, religious and political leaders and counselors all need a well-developed interpersonal intelligence.

Intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one's feelings, fears and motivations. In Howard Gardner's view it involves having an effective working model of ourselves, and to be able to use such information to regulate our lives."

Interesting, hm? Mozart is generally recognised as a genius (Musical intelligence), as is Einstein (Logical-mathematical intelligence), and Shakespeare (Linguistic intelligence) but let's hear it for Shaquille O'Neal, (Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence), several winners of the Nobel Peace Prize (Interpersonal intelligence) and your best friend (Intrapersonal intelligence) - maybe you!

The point is, of course, that we all possess a mix, and if we understand something about our own mix, we can work with it. At school, I ask students how they learn best - by reading, listening to instructions or information, watching a demonstration, or doing; by sitting over a desk concentrating, or pacing etc. In practice, it depends on whether they're committing facts to memory, or learning a skill, but even so, by telling, demonstrating, and having them do and read, the teacher encourages and reinforces learning. And making them aware of the theory helps them to manage their own learning, and develop respect for their own gifts and those of others. Making them less susceptible to humiliation by Help desk!

I don't need to subscribe to Gardner's theory to recognise these things - the challenge is to work with a classroomlful of individuals in this way, but then, what are teachers for?

There's more background and evaluation at the M.I. link above, but if you'd like to do an inventory of your intelligences (Yeah!) click here!

Go on: won't it make a change from sudoku or horoscope with your coffee? No, I haven't done it myself. It's the weekend, and a domestic blitz is required before I set off for our school graduation ceremony (pleased, proud, tear-streaked) - so I must get off this machine!

However, I will give it a go later, and if you'd like to give it a go too, and post a comment, we can compare notes.

Well, this is a satisfactory resolution to my technomoron (i.e. moron) crisis. Ha! :D


nzm said...

Re the Neocounter: mine also disappears from time to time. I think that it's when they're doing maintenance.

Re the Survey: before I did it, I guessed that my Interpersonal and Intrapersonal skills would be dominant.

The biggest chunk of the pie graph was certainly Interpersonal Intelligence followed closely by Verbal Intelligence and Naturalist Intelligence. Equally, next came Spatial, Intrapersonal, Bodily and Musical.

The smallest wedge was Logical! I've always thought myself to be logical, but when the majority of questions in that sector were about maths and which I'm not good at, it seems to have influenced that intelligence for me.

Interesting though!

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