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Reply to ""Multiple-Intelligences" and the Workshop Rotation Model"

This think piece appeared at our old website when the knowledge of learning intelligences was in its infancy. 


by Neil MacQueen, for

I remember when nobody outside of public school teachers had every heard of "the 7 Intelligences."  Then after hearing it, some folks were content "just to be creative," or "make the kids happy."  But as you can tell by the Rotation Model's EMBRACE of educational research, we're serious about doing our best to share God's Word in powerful and memorable lessons.

Given the diminished support and respect for Sunday School education in many quarters, its time we reminded folks that we're engaged in a serious educational ministry that looks to do more than just "make the kids happy" or decorate rooms.  I hope you can use some of these insights to guide your program and stoke your teacher training.

Our Seven Intelligences work together in complex ways. 

They do not "stand alone" but rather, are always interacting with each other. Music, for example, also typically involves bodily and interpersonal. It also has an emotional, visceral component as well --which as I describe below, may involve the "8th Intelligence."

Learning about the Prodigal Son through art instead of games is different, but different does not mean better. The point is to learn it through as MANY different learning pathways to deepen the understanding and memory, and to appeal to the wide variety of students and teacher's talents. 

Spiritual Intelligence?

Many years ago, a researcher from UCLA speaking at a Rotation Conference organized by Don Griggs, told us about a much debated "8th Intelligence" she and Gardener called "Spiritual Intelligence". (Some secular educators and old books call it "moral" intelligence, but the brain research has confirmed that the brain's moral processes is frontal lobe, whereas emotions and sense of being are processed elsewhere in the mind.  Spiritual Intelligence is the deeper sense of self that grasps, reflects, and respond.

Lesson Reflection, reflective activities, prayer, ...these types of activities feed that particular learning lense. But there is more.

Gardener's 8th Intelligence is probably also describing what other researchers describe as our "EMOTIONAL" memory,  --the way we feel when we're learning that gets imprinted on the content.

For example, life lessons learned the hard way are usually recalled with a twinge of pain. Feeling loved while learning about love, creates a positive association that strengthens the content. Naturally, the brain's memory wants to suppress what it didn't like. And negative emotions during and after learning impeded recall.  This is a major reason why Rotation Modelers believe in great activities and friendly spaces. 

Emotional content is quickly created and retrieved. That's because the brain processes and stores emotional content in the Limbic system, which is an evolutionarily ancient part of the brain designed to produce fight or flight, enjoy or reject. (Smell memories are the fastest. A bad smelling classroom can evoke bad memories, and imprint negative connotations on an otherwise lovely lesson!)   When a student REACTS to a story or learning experience, they develop an emotional or "gut" feeling/memory which can last a lifetime.

These  learning "areas" are not distinct or dis-connected in the brain. They are bound together, enhancing and information each other to produce our mind, our understanding, our memories.


How the WoRM Capitalizes on "M.I."

The workshops in the Rotation Model are specialized rooms that provide us with the STRUCTURAL EXPECTATION AND ENVIRONMENT to EMPHASIZE DIFFERENT LENSES or styles.

Rather than "hoping" our teachers will teach through many senses/lenses, the model designates specific rooms and teachers to utilize a specific set of learning activities. In reality, an Art Workshop lesson employs many of the learning senses, if not all! But the main activity zeroes in on a creative method, and does so with a teacher who is comfortable in that medium and will not ignore it.

In the old model, "the teacher" who led the same class every week, tended to teach in styles they were comfortable with and limited by. In the old model, the teacher picked and chose their way through the lesson plans we handed them, and often ignored media, or projects that required too much preparation because they didn't have the time to set up a creative project for just one week, and have to do it all over again the next week.  

The Rotation Model has the teacher repeating the creative lesson for several weeks in a row, each week to a different group, so the teacher gets better each week at the lesson, but the kids get a variety of approaches.

Thus, "rotation" is not to relieve boredom, or a plan to dress up classrooms. It is a very conscious attempt to make sure creative methods are getting used.




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