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Phuket: Is Multiple Intelligence an exciting failure?

PHUKET: This article will briefly review how and why the Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory has not been very successfully implemented in the classrooms of the world, as well as look at how Active Brain Based Learning (ABBLAT) can integrate with or supplant MI in the classroom.

By Jason Stanley

Monday 1 April 2013, 09:23AM

The basic MI theory is that previously considered talents were ‘upgraded’ to the category of intelligences. These intelligences come in nine clearly defined areas that ever person has. Everyone is better at some and less capable in others.

The intelligences are:

  • Verbal / Linguistic: Explanation and understanding through the use of language

  • Visual / Spatial: Explanation and comprehension through the use of images

  • Body / Kinaesthetic: Ability to use the body to learn, express ideas, and accomplish tasks

  • Interpersonal: Ability to accurately detect and respond to the motivations and desires of others

  • Logical / Mathematical: Ability to think conceptually, abstractly and linearly

  • Musical: Ability to recognise, produce and communicate using melody, rhythm, pitch, timber and harmony

  • Intrapersonal: Ability for self-evaluation leading to understanding motives, goals, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses

  • Naturalist / Environmental: Ability to recognise and categorise natural elements and discern their use

  • Existential: Ability to tackle deep questions about human existence

The basic theory of ABBLAT is that the brain learns in multiple ways simultaneously. Therefore learning is best accomplished by presenting information in multiple manners to stimulate the brain in as many ways as reasonably possible.

There are a few important questions concerning MI and ABBLAT. Here I will attempt to answer them.

  1. Is ABBLAT compatible with MI theory and practices?

The simple answer is yes. But really, so what?

MI indicates what to teach, not how to teach it. The ABBLAT system can be used equally well. ABBLAT equally integrates with teaching music, language, mathematics or any topic where memory and thought are required.

What are you trying to do as a teacher? If you are tutoring a single student it may be best to focus on MI and give that student lessons that best leverage his or her abilities, aptitudes and talents.

However if you are teaching in a normal classroom where you have from 10 to 20 or even 45 students ABBLAT is the way to go.

  1. How does implementation of MI compare to ABBLAT?


At the application level, where it really counts, using MI increases teacher workload significantly. There are three ways to implement MI.

  • Create unique daily lesson plans for each student based on the abilities and attitudes of that particular student.

  • Create independent learning stations for each intelligence method. Students spend time in each station focusing on a thematic curriculum.

  • Create different lesson plans for the entire class that is founded in the basis of one type of intelligence (11 per cent of learning is optimised while 89 per cent is not optimised at any given time).

Each of the three methods require some part or combination of multiple additional lesson plans and multiple teaching methods to be learned and supported. All of these issues fall directly on the teacher.

ABBLAT requires teachers to use an easy to learn methodology that can be implemented within one or two class periods.

  1. Are there clear cut steps to reasonably use MI and ABBLAT in the classroom?

Effectively with MI there is no clear cut set of steps that can address the many learning processes that supports each type of identified intelligence.

The ABBLAT methodology meanwhile is a clear step-by-step process with easy to follow guidelines. There are clear 1,2,3 type steps to integrate ABBLAT into existing lessons and lectures in virtually all subjects.

  1. How do the budget requirements of MI and ABBLAT compare?

The apparent greatest success with MI is in the multiple station approach. This requires significant costs for individualised station equipment, furnishings and special materials and additional classroom space.

With MI, teachers are paid to create nine lesson plans where one was previously required.

Since it is essentially free, ABBLAT is very budget friendly. It typically does not require any changes in the classroom. Teachers use it in classes with just about any existing set up and furnishing.

Not much beyond the occasional homemade or student-made poster is required, and the methodology is easily incorporated into existing lesson plans.

  1. Is it worth it? Are the results proportionate with the effort to implement MI and ABBLAT?

With MI I don’t think so. Even after 30 years since the introduction of MI there is very little data supporting clearly defined better results. If it worked well, we would know.

In my personal experience with ABBLAT at an international school in Vietnam, the overall grades improved by over 20 per cent. Most improvements are measured in the tenths of per cents. This level of improvement is phenomenal.

For more information about brain-based learning and teaching you can contact me at I look forward to your questions.



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