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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Nurturing Different Kinds of Intelligence: Giving All Subject Areas Equal Opportunity

This Minnesota middle school applies the theory of multiple intelligences to its curriculum to give students a well-rounded education.
By Edutopia
Edutopia Team

The Key Renaissance School in Indianapolis extends to middle school students the educational programs originally established at the Key School in 1987.

The Key School was one of the first schools to develop curriculum based on psychologist Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner is well-known for advancing the notion that intelligence is not a single entity fixed at birth. Instead, he maintains that individuals use at least seven intelligences in varying combinations when they approach problems or create products.

These include linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences -- the focus of most traditional courses of study. But they also include musical intelligence and bodily-kinesthetic intelligence -- aspects of student development that are often considered to be frills.

At both schools, music, dance, foreign language, and art have as much prominence in the program as math and history. Subjects are woven together in a theme-based curriculum that is designed to encourage students to develop and use their different intellgences.

In addition to themed courses, students at Key Renaissance select a yearlong enrichment course designed to challenge and appeal to individuals with similar capacities and interests. Some may study photography, holography, and computer graphics, while others learn how to lobby decision makers in city and state government. Throughout the school year, groups of students plan and participate in community service activities, such as working with homeless people, helping mount art exhibits, planting a peace garden, and developing a tour of the city by and for teens. The rich array of activities at Key Renaissance helps ensure that all students remain excited about -- and successful at -- learning.

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