Monday, October 23, 2006

A Better Approach to Multiple Intelligences

A few weeks ago, I complained about the overuse of the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) in schools. MI identifies 9 main prisms through which children might learn. Traditional schooling, MI proponents say, focuses too much on logical and linguistic intelligences. While there's nothing wrong with the theory that every child can learn, and many children learn in different ways, MI has often been used as a Trojan Horse to bash gifted programs. After all, if there are multiple intelligences, then every child can be gifted in something. And if all children are gifted, what's the point of gifted education?

Today I came across a story about the Madison Simis Elementary School in Arizona that's attempting to address the idea of different gifts in a more thoughtful way. You can read the Arizona Republic story on the school here.

Principal Joyce Flowers told the AZ Republic that "Every child has a talent... Sometimes it's just a matter of discovering it." But rather than use this theory as an excuse to keep heterogeneous classes in all subjects, the school has actually hired additional gifted instructors, and created advanced classes in multiple different topics. Kids are screened for giftedness in each area individually. If the child shows promise, she's put in the accelerated class for that subject. At the same time, she can attend the regular level classes in other subjects if the tests show that's where she should be.

This careful screening comes a lot closer to the idea of matching the education to the child than either the heterogeneous classes many people champion, or the "130-IQ and up" globally gifted screen many gifted programs use. At Madison Simis Elementary School, it appears that a child who needs more challenge in a particular subject area gets it. While I've not observed the school in person to know if this works in reality (as opposed to in theory) it sounds like a pretty good idea.

Do any of your children attend schools that screen by different subject areas for giftedness?


Anonymous said...

I think that this school should be studied and it's work duplicted as widely as possible. I won't replace the need for gifted programing, but it will compliment it nicely.

Anonymous said...

HI Everybody! I just stumbled onto your site while trying to research something else. My children attend the Madison School District in Arizona. My youngest son is in first grade at Simis and is involved in the new "identity" gifted pull out rotation that does not require testing. The child needs to be identified by a teacher or educator on campus. He is pulled out in a three week rotation program by the gifted math teacher. Once a segment of the math has been completed after three weeks, the teacher can request the child to come back for another segment. We just received another permission slip for a new three week rotation last week. So far, my son has really been enjoying the class. My older son is in the REACH program at Madison Park. This is a "self contained school within a school" for highly gifted kids. You are required to test into this program. You can google REACH in the Madison District if you would like more information. While not perfect, each son is doing well and seems to be well suited to their programs. Feel free to ask me any questions.

Anonymous said...

My son is at Madison Simis, but he's in an "immersion" classroom for gifted - not a pull out program.
Madison therefore offers three levels:
--REACH (tested, separate school)
--Immersion (my son was tested, but i heard of folks being recommneded into this)
--Pull Out (as outline in the article)