SAT and the Seven Intelligences
Are Ashland schools the best in America?
ITEM: Oregon scores tops in USA on Scholastic Aptitude Tests.
ITEM: Ashland schools score tops in statewide assessment testing.
CONCLUSION: If the areas these tests measure encompassed all intellectual ability, Ashland schools would arguably be the best in America. The catch is that SAT and other "IQ" tests measure only a portion of human intellectual capabilities: verbal and mathematical, with perhaps a little spatial thrown in.
"Adequately" because, if you're other than an American Caucasian, the tests are culturally inappropriate and you're guaranteed to fare less well than your pale brothers and sisters.
A "portion" because there are more ways of being "smart" than the above-mentioned; today's enlightened educators don't ask, "How smart are you?" They ask, "How are you smart?"
The Seven Intelligences
Howard Gardner, author of Frames of Mind, identifies seven intelligences. They are:
This one is familiar; related to words and language, both written and spoken; this form of intelligence dominates most Western educational systems.
The "other" intelligence, often called "scientific thinking," deals with deductive thinking and reasoning, numbers, and the recognition of abstract patterns.
Some tests measure this aptitude, which relies on the sense of sight, being able to visualize an object, and the ability to create internal mental images. Good for both geometry and motion picture directing.
Not too surprisingly nor hard to argue with, Gardner separates out an intelligence based on the recognition of tonal patterns, including various environmental sounds and a sensitivity to rhythm and beats.
Here's a new-sounding one, related to physical movement and the knowing/wisdom of the body, including the brain's motor cortex, which controls bodily motion. That humans not only have this intelligence and differ in it is perfectly clear once you've seen slow-motion film of what a champion athlete can do that you can't.
The intelligence that relates to inner states of being, self-reflection, thinking about thinking, and awareness of spiritual realities.
The intelligence that operates primarily through person-to-person relationships and communication. It relies on all the other intelligences, and its capacities include creating and maintaining synergy; "passing over" into the perspective of another; working cooperatively in a group; noticing and making a distinction among others; and verbal and non-verbal communications. Adept social workers, orchestra conductors, and salespersons probably score highly in this intelligence.
The idea of seven intelligences could be a peek into the future of education. How does Ashland do if measured by this new standard?
When asked if we're doing something about the other intelligences, Karen Dalrymple, District Executive Director, said, "No, there are no formal responses specific to Gardener's work."
However, a year ago a group of Ashland educators heard a presentation about Gardner's work and Dalrymple has had requests from teachers for articles or for the text, Frames of Mind. While there are no organized efforts to address Gardner's work, good teachers have always sought out and encouraged students to express their intelligences. Many Ashland teachers are beginning to study "authentic" assessments; these assessment strategies help us know students' intelligences.
Looks like we're on the right track.
Vivent les differences!
Finally, if there's one lesson to be gleaned from Gardner's ideas, it is that parents celebrate and savor the many intelligences of their children and fret less over "achievement" in the more fashionable ones.