Teaching today can, in many respects, be considered as a scientific pursuit, irrespective of the discipline or content. Ironically, many of the challenges of teaching in the twentieth century are the result of scientific endeavour. The increased availability of technology in all aspects of everyday life, the unprecedented rate of change and growth of knowledge are certainly confronting enough for those involved in classroom interactions. Perhaps one of the controversial issues in education today, however, centres around the nature of intelligence itself; how best to develop pedagogies that accommodate the findings of the field of cognitive science and a sound understanding of the nature of intelligence, particularly multiple intelligences.
This paper discusses the implementation of differentiated programs of teaching and learning utilising Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory and focussing particularly on developing students’ self knowledge in regards to their relative strengths and limitations as learners. It describes an Action Research project that was implemented to strengthen the learning strategies of students aged 8-10 years in a primary setting. The findings evidence not only increased intrapersonal intelligence and improved success in educational outcomes: but also increased efficiency in students’ motivation and work skills. The opportunity to ‘make meaning’ of their learning and develop their own strategies for problem solving had considerable impact on these students’ perceptions of themselves as learners. Although conducted with a literacy focus, many of the benefits of this project were demonstrated across all subjects that comprise the primary curriculum. It is possible that a similar approach to traditionally structured subjects such as mathematics and science could produce more successful learning outcomes and attitudes for primary students. However, despite the overall success of the project, the intervention raised some serious questions about the traditional role of students and their capacities to engage in projects that require them to make choices. The duration of this intervention project minimised the negative impact of the passive role that students have traditionally adopted, as the students had time to develop new strategies and perspectives of their roles of students in the twenty first century. Had this not been the case, the results could have been much less positive and the importance of students developing sound knowledge of themselves as learners misunderstood. Additionally the importance of students having the skills to make decisions in a formal, educational context may have easily been overlooked.