Sunday, November 10, 2013

In Their Own Way

Sorry to be gone last week folks, but I was out of town at an education conference.  Once I got back, I spent the next few days playing major catch-up.  So I am just now sitting down to get the blog updated - my apologies! 

My saturation with all thing education last week brought me back to one of my favorite education books.  As a special education teacher, I can testify with confidence that kids do not all learn the same way.  In fact, no two students are exactly alike.  Yet we have a very narrow idea of what "intelligence" really is or how learning should take place.  Our dream for our children can be too small - and we wind up hindering their true potential as a result.

In Their Own Way by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., takes a look at our idea of what "smart" means and how in truth, there are many ways to be "smart" and bloom.  Most people in education these days are familiar with Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences.  The idea is that people are smart - intelligent - in different ways, but our school system tends to reward only one or two of those ways.  Gardner has identified eight different "intelligences":  body-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, spatial, linguistic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist.  Schoolwork tends to be aimed at those strong in the mathematical or linguistic intelligences.  However, what if we were able to allow kids who were musical or spatial to learn in their own way?   How would that change the amount of information and skills they'd be able to obtain and use in their lives?

Thomas Armstrong takes this theory and runs with it in an extremely applicable way. He addresses issues of multiple intelligences in schools and reasons why your student may not be thriving.  The chapters are chock-full of insights and great ideas for both the home and the classroom.  But my FAVORITE part of the book is in the back where he breaks down books, games, internet sites, learning materials, and a TON more for each specific intelligence.  It's like a treasure trove of ideas for anyone who works with kids, whether an educator, teacher, day-care worker, counselor...anyone who works with kids would benefit from these final chapters.  They are massively useful in helping kids reach their full potential. 

Some examples:

- Have a child who is strong in bodily-kinesthetic form punctuation marks with their body posture to teach grammar

- Come up with chants and songs to help students learn math concepts in a musical manner

- Use puzzles to teach countries to kids with strong spatial skills

In addition to providing a massive amount of resources and good ideas, the books is well written and easy to read.  It's not at all  "academic" in its vernacular.  You don't have to have an Ed.S. to understand it.  Dr. Armstrong's goal is to provide useful information rather than a professional or highly academic discussion, and he surpasses that goal with his book's structure and word choice.

I also found the book to be very personally applicable.  In reading the book, I realized that I am very strong in the linguistic and intrapersonal intelligences.  I can go to those sections of the book and identify strategies that can help ME learn new concepts. For example, journaling my way through new ideas is a great way for me to learn because it uses both of those strengths. 

If you interact with kids at all, this book is for you.  If you've ever struggled with getting a concept into a kid's head, this book is for you.  If you've ever wondered why your child doesn't do well in school, the book is for you. 

In short...there's a good chance this book is for you.  Check it out! 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
What I'm Reading Now: Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge

Top 5 TBR:
1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
2. Shooting Victoria by Paul Thomas Murphy
3. A Prophetic Calendar by Jill Shannon
4. Forgotten God by Francis Chan
5. The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordian

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