I’m a huge fan of Kagan’s Multiple Intelligences teaching model. It’s based on the theory that students are smart in different ways. Kagan’s Multiple Intelligences teaches teachers to engage all their students through instructional strategies that target many of the intelligences at the same time. For a list of the intelligences check out one of my previous posts. What’s Your Strongest Intelligence?
My strongest intelligence is Intrapersonal or as Kagan describes it: To Know Thyself Philosophers, poets, political leaders, religious figures, theologians, and visionaries have a strong intrapersonal intelligence.
One of my weakest intelligences is Visual Spatial. People who appreciate architecture, arranging, decorating, painting, drawing, graphing, building models, solving jigsaw puzzles, people who can remember visual details, and have a great sense of direction are strong in the visual spatial intelligence. Put a jigsaw puzzle in front of me and I’ll tell you I’m going to the gym because my Bodily Kinesthetic intelligence is much stronger than my visual spatial intelligence.
Teachers who use the Kagan Multiple Intelligences model have a vision to make their students stronger in all of the intelligences. Stretching is a term used for when a student is asked to perform a task that is targeted towards their weaker intelligence. It’s the same as what teachers may call a “reluctant reader.” Perhaps that “reluctant reader” is very strong in the bodily kinesthetic intelligence and sitting still and reading makes them feel frustration.
We’ve felt it as adults. That strong feeling of really not wanting to do something. It’s outside our comfort zone and we’ll think of a list of other things we’d much prefer spending our valuable time doing. That task we don’t want to do but must do is most likely stretching our weaker intelligence. It could be anything from going to a party and having to talk to lots of people to organizing a closet.
Yesterday, was a great example of Eric and I both stretching our weaker intelligences. it wasn’t pretty!
Our house is mainly happy, upbeat, and calm. Well, except when I’m not home then I’m sure it’s filled with Eric’s loud obnoxious music. Basically, there is very little turmoil in our home and I’m very grateful for that. Well, yesterday you could cut the negative energy with a knife. Kai was oblivious writing a new song for hours tucked away in Eric’s music room. he has a strong Musical Rhythmic intelligence. Meanwhile, Eric and I were glaring at each other and being out right grumps! Because my strongest intelligence is intrapersonal and the negative energy was so great I went into questioning mode. Why? What was really going on?
Then it hit me. Eric and I were both performing tasks that were outside our strongest intelligence. We were being stretched and it was causing great frustration in both of us.
Eric had decided to paint the pool deck. My husband is a computer whiz, he is super book smart, he is also very strong in the Interpersonal intelligence meaning he loves interaction with people but one thing he hates to do is house maintenance. He hates it! To keep the peace I usually hire a handy man. Well, after being away from home in his excitement of returning to Florida after spending a week in snow he decided to paint the pool deck. I said nothing. I was worried. I remember the time long ago when he tried to build a rabbit hutch. It was not pleasant. I have to admit I was impressed. I knew he was doing it for me to show me he cared about our house. Still, I know my husband.
We chose the color. He came home from the store and began painting. It was the wrong color…. Meanwhile, everything that had once been in our bedroom was piled in another upstairs room. We had taken it all out to have a new floor put down in our bedroom. Filing cabinets full of papers, bins of the kid’s school stuff from years past, pictures, and posters and books I used for teaching. All of it had to be sorted through and organized. Organized as in using my spatial intelligence to figure out how to organize and where to place everything. My worst nightmare! I could feel the tension inside me. It was one of those projects that gets messier before it gets better. The piles stretched out into the hall. I kept making trips to the recycle bin and trashcan and trunk for my GoodWill drop off. While Eric begrudgingly went back to get different paint I irritably dealt with all the stuff! It was like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle that I knew would take me days to complete. Ugh! We were both being stretched outside our comfort zones and taking it out on each other as all happily married couples do.
Finally, he finished. He was covered in paint, not smiling, hungry, and in need of some loud obnoxious music. The pool deck looked beautiful. He did it! I told him how wonderful it looked. My enthusiasm made no difference in him. He was spent.
Eventually, we’ll have an organized closet and a decorated bedroom. My project will take days. I’ll have to do some research on Pinterest to figure out just how to decorate. I simply don’t see it. Stretching outside of routines and comfort zones doesn’t feel all that great as your performing the task. It’s a just do it and get it over with attitude. I’ve heard people describe feeling that way when it comes to exercise. I look forward to exercising where they may look forward to organizing and decorating. The thing is every time you stretch the weaker intelligence it gets stronger. Every accomplishment reinforces a “can do” attitude. I think it’s important to remember that our kids go through the same feelings at school. Those kids that struggle with math and reading or the Verbal Linguistic and Logical Mathematical intelligences feel the turmoil more because most schools stress math and reading above all other subjects.
My challenge to you is to discover your weakest intelligence and go out and do some stretching. Not only will it make you smarter but it will also make you stronger!
Kagan’s Multiple Intelligences: