People learn in different ways. One person is linguistically strong
while another excels in interpersonal or visual-spatial skills. Howard Gardner analyzes
the different learning styles people have and labels them Multiple Intelligences (MI). The
Multiple Intelligences are linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial,
bodilyĖkinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and natural. Gardner
encourages teachers to relate information in many different styles in order to access all
students in the classroom.
Last year for the ATID project, the author adapted these creative teaching
methods to the Bible classroom. In continued research, the author discovered that Multiple
Intelligence Schools have developed Howard Gardnerís theories into an entire school
curriculum, not just individual lesson plans. Gardnerís goals are to create a relevant
learning environment for children. This means that students can gain skills and develop
character in ways that will positively influence them. Gardner outlines the following
elements for a MI based school curriculum. All of the elements are adapted to a Judaic
Studies curriculum in the project and briefly explained below. They are:
Without character development, Gardner claims that we have missed the point in education.
One must educate students to be contributing members of society. This means educating
beyond the classroom, beyond the text and the test. Behaving morally and understanding and
implementing Jewish values are far more important lessons than knowing another chapter in
Education for Understanding (Applied Knowledge):
For knowledge to be gained, students must successfully apply it in new situations. Gardner
calls this education for understanding. He writes how infrequently education for
understanding occurs in elementary, high school and college graduates.
An Interdisciplinary Curriculum:
Teaching thematically encourages education for understanding. A current school curriculum
consists of individual, unrelated classes. If all subjects overlap one theme, knowledge
is more easily absorbed, longer retained, constantly tested and applied, and allows a student
to question, explore and challenge information more fully. MI schools usually conduct three
thematic units per year.
Student Projects and Evaluations:
Far more exhaustive than tests, research projects allow students to explore subjects at their
own pace, and present their findings in ways they enjoy that best express their
intelligences. At the end of each theme-based unit of instruction, students present
projects. Teachers guide, stimulate and provide encouragement to students, in addition to
offering a variety of presentation methods based on the various intelligences. At the end
of each project, students evaluate their work through written and audio-visual aids.
Mentors and Apprenticeships:
Students are able to choose from a variety of subjects that interest them and actually work
with a specialist in the field at school. Projects are created under the guidance of the
specialist, questions are answered, goals set and accomplished. Different options are
available each semester, or the student may choose to continue in the same field. Another
effective method of apprenticeship training is sending students to work with
professionals. This has proven to be highly beneficial for both parent and child. Gardner
believes that apprenticeship training should cover three different intelligences Ė one
in the arts, one in academia, and one in dance or sports.
The above factors stimulate the natural desire of a child to learn. A relevant, exciting
curriculum, as well as teachers who focus on utilizing all intelligences in the classroom
will produce more highly and naturally motivated students.
The author adapted the book of Exodus to a Jewish Studies MI curriculum.
Following the thematic learning system, the book is divided into three sections or
themes; Ancient Egypt, Wanderings in the Desert and the Building of the Tabernacle. The
project focuses on Section I, Ancient Egypt. A sample weekly schedule is included in
the project. An interdisciplinary Judaic studies curriculum would cover the following
topics in relation to Ancient Egypt: Bible, Navi, Mishna, Talmud, Jewish Law, Jewish
history and Hebrew language. In addition to learning the first few chapters of Exodus
chronologically, students focus on themes that overlap all subjects, including those
belonging to ďgeneral studiesĒ (math, science, geography, social studies, drama, art
and music). Students are not only studying text but also creating a miniature Ancient Egypt
in their classrooms. All themes are taught using MI intelligences, with students breaking
up into groups and creating projects on material they have learned. Upon completion,
students present their findings to the class.
STUDENT PROJECTS, OCCUPATIONS AND EVALUATIONS
Three separate student projects are conducted each year, in
collaboration with the themes studied in an interdisciplinary curriculum. In order to
connect the project to a MI curriculum, the author combined occupation and projects.
The student chooses an occupation of interest mentioned or referred to in the Bible.
Then, he must explore it using other Biblical references and commentaries, include world
knowledge, explain the occupationís relevance to Ancient Egyptian times, and compare it
to its modern day equivalent, if one exists. Most importantly, to enhance character
development, the student must make a creative contribution to the profession after having
evaluated the professionís requirements and services provided. If available, students
go to work with someone in the field. Students are also expected to prepare related
projects at home from a suggested list of MI presentations. Teachers give no grades,
but thorough evaluations are conducted. As a sample, the author researched the
occupation of midwifery. Her findings are included in the project.
MITZVAH HUNT, BIBLICAL LEADERS, AND BIBLICAL LINGUISTICS
The author created these three unique classes for a MI curriculum. Ideas
were based on Gardnerís criterion that the courses overlap the interdisciplinary theme, are
easily adapted to student created projects, and require applied knowledge. The Mitzvah
Hunt is where students search the text, evaluating which mitzvoth are mentioned in their
theme and why. This also gives the student Jewish global knowledge of the mitzvah and its
context. Biblical leaders are researched in an effort to study their outstanding character
traits and incorporate them in the studentsí lives. Biblical Linguistics is a course
intended to increase sensitivity and locations of word subtleties in the Bible.
In the project, advantages and disadvantages of adapting Gardnerís work
are outlined. Some major advantages increased class participation, a reduction of
disciplinary problems, inclusion of all student skills in the classroom, relevant and
exciting coursework, character improvement, vocational training, and retained knowledge.
Tremendous workload for teachers, staff resistance to implementing a new
curriculum, and less coverage are a few examples of why parents and educators would not
welcome MI in their schools. Plus, all the ideas suggested in this paper have not yet been
put to practice. The author hopes to implement as many of these innovative ideas as
possible, but recognizes that community staff effort is required. The author firmly
believes in the educational and pedagogical rewards in implementing MI for both teacher