The first is one of my observations for HSED 625. There are thirty desks jammed in a small room with the teacher’s desk squeezed in the corner. The walls are nearly completely lined with posters, white boards, and filing cabinets. Three knowledgeable, but obviously nervous, presenters stand in front of a text-heavy PowerPoint presentation and give tons of great information to high school sophomores for an hour and a half straight. The facts come quickly at the students in hopes that they will soak some of it up. One small point in the presentation requires volunteers to come to the front of the class and attempt to put a condom on a cucumber while wearing “beer goggles”. The bell rings, and a new load of students walk in the door.
The second is my “Exotic Dance for the Everyday Woman” class that I taught for two years. This big open martial arts studio has an entire wall lined with mirrors, padded mats on the floors, two vertical poles on the side of the room, and is typically kept a bit chilly. Women 18-55 years old enter into this room where they are handed hula hoops and jam to Madonna. When stretching is over, these ladies sit in a circle discuss the topic of body image, exotic dance, female empowerment, and/or sisterhood. They are up as quickly as possible to practice their confident march while I encourage them to take their sensual self seriously. They stumble while they try to learn the moves from each other, but at least the music is good. Some people are out of breath, but they are all encouraging one another. The time is up; the women are given a description of next week’s class.
It isn't fair to compare these two experiences. The environment is hard to control; we work with what we have. Of course the dance class is going to be heavier in movement because that is what is being taught. We are restricted in a public high school about what we can teach and how we can teach. But it is my experience with both of these instances that has created my bias toward incorporating as much spatial, kinesthetic, and musical learning into the classroom as possible.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences includes musical, spatial, and body-kinesthetic among its seven categories of intelligences. Although each of the different types of intelligences are important to emphasize, Gardner (1993) felt that linguistic and logical-mathematical were overemphasized in our culture. It is because of this that I feel the need to highlight these other intelligences. I have included a few examples for pandering to these lesser-recognized intelligences below.
1) This fellow and his students at a YMCA created a song about using condoms as a means to prevent STI transmission.
2) This male Indian singing group made an up-beat song about condoms that discusses both HIV/AIDS, female condoms, and is inclusive to gay males.
3) This medical model can be felt to learn how to do breast examinations.
4) Students can create their own “genderbread”person as a homework assignment.
5) Students can hold signs and place themselves in the proper order of events that occur (ie. the sexual response cycle).
What other examples can you think of that uses these types of intelligences? How would you work with these intelligences within certain disabled populations (i.e. deaf, blind, or limited mobility students)? What considerations would you have to make to include very introverted students?
Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences: The theory in practice. New York: BasicBooks.