So, I thought I’d bring this blog out of hibernation in order to write some things for a class I’m taking this semester on motivating 21st century learners.
One of the goals of the class is to learn about a number of important educational theorists and their impact on teaching and learning; one of these people is Howard Gardner. Gardner, a professor at Harvard, has spent the last few decades working on a number of things in the field of education, including designing performance-based assessments, interdisciplinary education, and using multiple intelligences to create more personalized curriculum and instruction.
The theory of multiple intelligences is probably what Gardner is most known for; this theory suggests that rather than intelligence being one single ability, there are different types, or modalities, of intelligence. People have different intellectual strengths, and these play an important role in “how people represent things in their minds, and then how people use them in order to show what it is that they’ve understood.” 
When Gardner originally posited this theory, he said that there were seven different intelligences; as of now, people currently think there are nine, including visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential intelligences. More detailed descriptions can be found here.
Why is this important to education? Well, with our current emphasis on standardized testing, the intelligences being assessed are generally only verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical. Since kids learn differently, and there are, at minimum, 7 other ways for them to think about things and show what they’ve learned, both instruction and assessment need to evolve to meet the needs of all kids. Teachers have been, and need to continue to, move away from lectures and memorization to more diverse teaching methods, to project-based learning and assessments that don’t just focus on language arts, math, and filling in multiple choice bubbles. More on how this can be done next time.
1. Biography of Howard Gardner. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://howardgardner.com/biography/
2. Big thinkers: Howard Gardner on multiple intelligences. (1997). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-video