Early in my college-level studies I went into counseling and psychotherapy. In the course of a few semesters my intrapsychic being began to undergo such a radical transformation that the counseling model continues to greatly influence my outlook on education. I also feel very strongly about the potential inherent by developing each aspect of multiple intelligence. I reckon that, in order to be balanced in each multiple intelligence (MI), human beings in general and children in particular need unconditional support through the use of emotionally considerate language and compassionate comport on behalf of all adults in their lives.
For instance, I could envision adults thinking of their own capacity for certain MI’s; they might say, “I am terrible at (math / singing / dancing / catching / throwing / writing / spelling / using maps / describing myself / talking in front of a group),” and in general one might dismiss that person’s expression altogether, not thinking twice about the lack of confidence that person might be feeling in relation to a particular MI. It is practically unheard of to encourage another person to openly elaborate on negative feelings. Now consider a child saying “I am not good at …(input MI),” and acting in avoidance toward a certain activity. How would you, as a parent or compassionate educator, respond? Would you say, “Yea, you’re probably right — better to not even try it; just go do something you’re already pretty good at,” or would you say, “That’s why it’s a good idea to put in some effort and learn something new!” Clearly the supportive attitude will take the child (or adult) further into the authentic expression of her potential than the negative one would.
I worked in a highly structured developmental school for two years before beginning to substitute teach in an inner city school. The biggest difference I noticed is the way the staff interacted with the students. In the developmental school staff very rarely talked above a normal conversational tone, and always used considerate language when asking a student to do an activity. When I went to the inner city I could hear teachers screaming, when I was at the opposite end of the hallway. Staff members would be literally yelling at students in order to achieve the external appearance of compliance or group conformity. I can only imagine what the student (and teacher) was feeling — if I was in complete shock!
I think that schools really need to focus on the interpersonal and intrapersonal MI aspects to start with. Then, in everything the child does, there will be comfort and ease in the school environment. From that ease of mind there can be nurtured a continual awareness of thoughts and feelings, and an open, honest, and genuine expression of that awareness throughout the course of the day. However, if the child is raised to disregard her emotional needs in order to comply to an authoritarian figure, one who teaches first and foremost that the individual voice is to be suppressed and not expressed, then to achieve actualization in more than one or two MI’s is highly improbable.
So again I am back at a modeling of counseling. But I don’t think it is necessary to introduce intensive interventions or the need to suspend students and send them for counseling services, if (and this is a big if), if educational staff can themselves learn to think, speak, and interact with a genuine sense of mutual support. By educating teachers to be mindful of their comport, and cognizant of their own waking thoughts and emotions, there is a highly increased likelihood that the child will develop in a carefree way, one which embodies enthusiasm, eagerness, and an earnest drive to learn not only from books but from all experiences which the child encounters. When the child is totally supported socially and emotionally, first and foremost, then all of her endeavors will be genuine and wholehearted.
However, being a professional fledgling with no class of my own I am uncertain as to how balance of MI or even create an emphasis on interpersonal and intrapersonal awareness, which can be fully integrated on a daily basis. I do not know the fiscal feasibility of asking whole schools, towns, and districts to implement social-emotional learning programs. I do not know if teachers would be willing to introspect into their own intrapsychic processes when their inner-mind might have been relatively unexplored for the greater part of their lives.BIO: Landon Gupta is interested in the neurological impacts of relationships in education. Student at Goddard college. Focuses on the effects of business in education.