Can a youth group be run using an approach based around multiple intelligence theory?

My overall aim for this study is to try and understand if a youth group can be run and operated using a multiple intelligence (MI) theory type approach, and if it would be more effective than current methods.

Since we looked at alternative education theories in first year, MI theory has interested me. This was initially because I see young people marginalised by the formal education system and I think that youth groups, on the whole, still operate towards the more formal end of the spectrum, focusing on linguistic and logical intelligence. “An exclusive focus on linguistic and logical skills in formal schooling can short-change individuals with skills in other intelligences. It is evident from inspection of adult roles, even in language-dominated Western society, that spatial, interpersonal, or bodily-kinaesthetic skills often play key roles. Yet linguistic and logical skills form the core of most diagnostic tests of “intelligence” and are placed on a pedagogical pedestal in our schools” (Gardner, 1993, p31) I also think that there are aspects of a MI theory approach that would be useful in a youth work setting such as goal identification, individual learning plans, portfolio assessment and observations.

I am planning on using a questionnaire initially to find out youth workers’ thoughts on how possible these aspects could work in a youth work setting, how effective they think they would be and if they could realistically implement these aspects.

In my pilot study I found that an MI theory approach seemed to be suited to a specific type of youth group, I will use my questionnaire to identify which youth workers run those types of groups and then will aim to interview a sample of those youth workers to further explore their thoughts and views.

I will be looking at multiple intelligence theory, proposed by Howard Gardner. His theory claims that there are between 7-9 different intelligences; Logical/Mathematical, Verbal/Linguistic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Visual/Spatial, Bodily/Kinaesthetic, Musical/Rhythmical, Naturalistic and Existential. “Gardner proposed his theory of multiple intelligence as a direct challenge to the ‘classical view of intelligence’…Gardner makes a strong claim for several relatively autonomous intelligences… a variety of intelligences, working in combination.” (Kornhaber et al, 1996, p203)

In particular I will be exploring the ways in which Gardner thinks that you could implement a multiple intelligence theory approach in education including portfolio and observational based evaluation and assessment, personalised learning plans and goal identification.

Adam Rice

Adam studied with MCYM for 3 years achieving a BA (Hons) in Youth Work, Communities and Practical Theology