November 4, 2021- The bubbly, petite girl was finished, correctly, with each task assigned by her teacher, in five minutes or less. Her groupmates each needed ten-fifteen minutes for the same increments of work. She began to handle this state of affairs with off-the-wall comments and attempts at distracting the rest of the group. That this was only prolonging their time on task did not occur to her-until blank disciplinary reports were place in front of her. Then, there was quiet and a semblance of order.
This is but one of many conundrums in mass education. The most inventive and intelligent minds are commingled with those whose comprehension levels pale in their shadow. Many schemes have been devised to correct this and there is no easy solution-save patience and perseverance. There are batteries of tests, that purport to identify high functioning people-to the level of genius. These, however, are only beginning to take in the full range of intelligence, thirty-eight years after Howard Gardner first published his theory of Multiple Intelligences. There are still too many who minimize these strands of intelligence as “talents” or “special abilities”.
There is likely to long remain a vigorous debate on the matter-but after forty-six years in education and counseling, I am one of those who subscribes wholeheartedly to Gardner’s theory. It could well be that we merely live in an age of specialists, and that the Renaissance Man is the paragon- in need of revival. I have, however, known several such Renaissance People-who seem to be multivariate in ability. They have, each, however, been endowed with a strong emotional support base and have had their intelligences nurtured, consistently, with multiple theaters for practice and strengthening. These are not human beings with isolated elements of talent.
I an not averse to heterogeneous grouping of students. The rub is, however, that EACH student’s strengths need to be identified-by a variety of methods, and each intelligence mode be seen as valuable as any other. We are making slow progress towards this end, and the hope is that the temptation to seek “dumbing down” of learning programs, in the name of “equivalency” and “equity” will go the way of the washboard and the transistor radio.
It goes without saying that we need all hands, and skills, on deck.