Curriculum and Instruction Term Paper

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Howard Gardner and Evelyn Sowell on the Perfect Student

Will our educational system ever produce the "perfect student" graduate of a "perfect school?" If we follow theories of Howard Gardner and Evelyn Sowell, there is a strong possibility. But we must also re-evaluate our testing and evaluation procedures.

The ideal student coming out of the perfect school would not necessarily be the person who has performed the best on multiple choice tests or has had the best attendance record. My ideal student is someone who has learned how to enhance and develop his or her innate intelligences and the perfect school is an institution that helps the student achieve that goal.

Since everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, I believe Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences is an excellent approach to learning. Gardner believes intelligence is "the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural settings." (1.) Using his background in biology and psychology, Gardner tapped into his research to devise his list of seven intelligences: 1., Visual-Spatial Intelligence; 2., Musical Intelligence; 3., Verbal Intelligence; 4., Logical-Mathematical Intelligence; 5., Interpersonal Intelligence; 6., Intrapersonal Intelligence; and 7., Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence.

Gardner believes we are all born with these intelligences, but some are more developed than others by the time we enter the classroom. The challenge is to get educators to implement curriculum that can be adapted to those in the class who are more developed in certain areas, but also not lose those whose intelligences aren't quite as refined. Therefore, curriculum must be engaging on several different levels if learning can be achieved. An educator can use different methodologies in presenting lessons, but the student must be willing to work through difficult areas, or areas where he or she needs to refine one of the innate intelligences.

In my opinion, the perfect student would have made an attempt to learn difficult material and also has made the effort to fully master his natural talents. This is all we can ask of students. There are going to be subjects students will not like and success in these areas must be adapted to each student. Often subjects that are not "liked" are those that are not taught in succinct or tangible terms. The challenge for educators is to bring each individual child to a successful level but also to achieve success with the whole class. Unfortunately, success is often measured by standardized tests and assessments to which we must adhere. While I may not agree with standardized testing, this realm of evaluation is a reality.

Educators face a daunting task and our ever-changing and diverse demographics continue to make teaching more challenging to the educational system as well as to individual educators. In order to give more individualized attention, which is the key to the perfect student's success, we need to depend on the administration of the perfect school to be there for support, including assigning certain teachers to tutoring duties where needed, possibly including assigning teachers with specialty areas to children who need work in those subjects.

Gardner says in order to succeed, our approach to learning should be more of a historical nature. Gardner says learning should encompass the questions we ask as children, such as "Where do we come from?" And "Why do I look like I do?" (2.) He says it is not necessarily success in performing mathematical equations that makes one successful at mathematics. Gardner says it is the duty of educators to get students to think of the underlying language or basis for mathematics, or where mathematics came from.

A am) not to be against disciplines, but to think of disciplines not as subject matters, which are convenient ways of providing catalogs and classrooms, but rather as ways of thinking about the world that human beings have developed," he told an interviewer. "How we think scientifically: what it means to have a hypothesis and to test it, how we disconfirm notions that people have, what does it mean to read a text and go beyond the literal, to ask probing questions of a text, to understand things like irony, things like the framing of a text, and these are disciplined ways of thinking that actually allow us to give better answers…[continue]

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