Yokosuka students learn there are many ways to be smart
May 21, 2006
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — You’ve heard of “book smart” and “a head for numbers” — what you’re usually tested on in school.
But what about someone with an ear for music, the natural athlete, or the one who plays nice with others? Is that smart, too?
Yes, says Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Howard Gardner, who developed the “multiple intelligence” theory. His work was set to music, pounded into mochi and danced to Friday in The Sullivans Elementary School “Multiple Intelligent Me,” or MIMe Festival.
More than 30 performers spent the morning at Yokosuka Naval Base demonstrating Gardner’s nine intelligences: musical, linguistic, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, emotional, logical and naturalist smarts. The school’s 1,200 children arranged flowers, laughed at comedians, heard stories and danced in a number of activities picked to pique their interest.
“This is many students’ favorite day of the year,” said Sullivans music teacher Andre Elliot. He started the festival four years ago as a way to counterbalance education’s traditional focus on math and language.
“Schools measure that so heavily,” Elliot said. “We want the kids, and the teachers, to see that there are other ways of learning.”
Fourth-grader Alex Council found plucking the strings of the Japanese Koto “fabulous.”
His classmate Kirstin Nygaard is more of a book person, she said. Fourth-grader Madison White thought being quizzed by a clown was the best part of the day.
“Ronald McDonald was doing tricks and exercising with us,” White said.
The hope is that the kids see something they like and try something new, said music teacher Tamara Choate.
Multiple intelligence theory is getting noticed in the working world as well, Elliot said, because knowing what kind of learner an employee is could improve job performance.
“Companies might want someone with emotional intelligence to work on a team or be a leader,” Elliot said. “They might be looking for interpersonal smarts. It has applicability in life. Period.”