Not Everyone Agrees
Although the theory of Multiple Intelligence is rapidly catching on, it has its share of critics. Traditionalists see it as an excuse to lower standards and make testing obsolete. Many parents of high achieving children think it’s a “feel-good” theory for kids in lower reading groups and a threat to funds set aside for gifted-and-talented programs.
It’s "like reading your horoscope," says Marjorie Kaplan, of the Discovery channel. "You can read into it whatever you want, and everybody feels comfortable with it." Even Gardner himself said, “"We are not yet certain of the goodness of the idea of multiple intelligences."
On the other end of the spectrum, you have parents who interpret MI theory to mean that their children should excel in every area. Viens exclaims, “The danger in all of this is that parents are now feeling compelled that their kids be the best in eight different intelligences!”
Your Child’s Needs
So how can you assess your child’s intelligence? “If parents observe, observe, observe, and then reflect upon what they observe, they will be better able to devise ways of communicating with their children and of teaching their children in ways that are appropriate to that child's style,” says Chantland. Project Zero’s Viens agrees, “My daughter can take or leave drawing, and she’s not big into blocks, but what an actress! Now that she’s in kindergarten, I’m helping her connect her interest in acting to helping her with literacy.”
Even MI skeptics like Mike Flynn, owner of the Tutoring Clubs of San Jose, California, adhere to this approach. “Find things that your kids are good at. Success breeds success. If a child is struggling with one type of phonics skill, go to one that they’re good at, then move to the tougher stuff,” he says.
If you’re interested in learning more about Multiple Intelligence theory and how to apply it to your child, there are dozens of books, websites, software packages and other enrichment activities available. There are even MI newsletters and special schools built around MI based curricula. To learn more, visit the Project Zero website at: http://www.pz.harvard.edu/Default.htm.