Yes anyway, how did that go?
Dear reader, I must begin the account by telling you that I am inordinately excited by the implications one can glean from spending time with Gardner's multiple intelligence theory. Really, really excited. Eight different ways to be intelligent. Eight. (Gardner now cops to 8.5: waiting for more hard data on the intelligence he calls existential)
The theory posits that each and every one of us possesses each and every intelligence. This isn't up for speculation, it is a given. A given! How beautifully generous is that? Every person has it all. It's hardwired within the brain.
Great, yes! What is even greater is to consider the other part of this axiom: each intelligence operates as a separate modality. Each has its own input that it alone can process; and indeed, it is the presence of the input for which it is wired that activates that particular intelligence.
So of course, I am really, really excited for many reasons.
As I have the pleasure of sharing a classroom with children who are not "neurotypical," this knowledge, this familiarity of the nature of intelligences as laid out by Gardner, in conjunction with the knowledge that all the intelligences can and will be activated in some capacity, given the proper input---it is as if MI theory is the "cash on the barrelhead," the insurance, if you will, that backs up what we as teachers believe about our students: they are smart, they are special, and they will succeed.
Operating with Gardner's theory as home base, our students can believe us when we say that they can and will be great students. We're putting our money where our mouths are when we meet our students "where they are," and provide an environment that allows their unique intelligence profiles the most fitting expression. It's not a matter of speculation or faith; it's a given. There is a lot of relief in that, and in that, a release from pressure: a lot of lovely, lovely room in which to expand and explore.
Operating with Gardner's theory as home base, we have a construct with which to advocate for our students to others who do not know our students in the same ways that we do. Simply put, there are many in public schools who are lacking the confidence to be able to meet our kids where they are. Appy a label to a student, and that label can nag and pick away at our feelings of efficacy in relating to that student. Apply a label of autism, I've found, and this effect is often greatly exacerbated. MI theory is beautifully suited to shifting our thinking from labels and concerns about our abilities to thinking about how a student's intelligences manifest. It shifts our thinking to the student's abilities, not our own.
So of course, when I presented this paper, my heart rate was already up, for I'm just so excited about MI theory. My cello intro was full of vibrato, but it came from my bow hand. Time seemed to go very quickly. I talked, and did my slide presentation on the big screen. I was very excited about the ideas. At one point, and I believe this is what happened, two sentences hybridized themselves in my brain: "we give our students expectations," and "we set expectations for our students," and what I did in fact say was that "we give our students sex."
(Oh, really, Neroli. Way to go. Not.)
I tried to do my best to be articulate. Everyone seemed to regard me with a neutral to bored expression. No one but the professor had comments or questions when I was finished. I didn't feel positively or negatively about the presentation: just empty, as if I had taken such a large breath, and had left it all out slowly. So when my friend the Artist FKAPW asked me about the presentation, I truly didn't know what to say.
So it was with trepidation that I looked at my grade on Thursday night. It was an "A." The professor noted that he liked the use of the cello, the pacing was good, my answers to his questions were well thought out, and he liked the point of MI theory as a way to enable students to have power within the classroom environment.
I was surprised. But glad. And glad to know that I still have some work to do when it comes to perception.
It is another beautiful sunny day here, as it has been for some days. Yesterday as my Little Guy and I went to sit on the back stoop by the apple tree to wait for his brother, the Big Guy, to join us, LG said, well, let's just sit out here and enjoy ourselves.