When it comes to choosing a school, nothing is more important than finding the right fit for your child. With so many schools in Beijing, having a good understanding of a school’s curriculum can help parents narrow down their choices. In this feature, we outline nine different types of curricula and chatted with Beijing parents and students about the strengths of each. From IB to homeschooling, we invite you to sit down and study up.
Harvard University professor Dr. Howard Gardner first proposed the Multiple Intelligences theory in his 1983 book Frames of Mind. He wrote that humans are made up of multiple intelligences, the main eight intelligences being linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intra-personal, and naturalist.
The Multiple Intelligence theory strongly influenced the American education system in the 1990s, encouraging schools to view children’s learning from a new perspective. At the core of this theory is the recognition that children think and learn differently and that intelligence can be expressed in a multitude of ways.
How is it applied?
Schools teaching Multiple Intelligences use different methodologies to reach all students. There is no single preferred model and individual schools have implemented the theory in different ways. What they have in common is a multi-faceted approach to teaching. In a typical model, the learning objective is linked to words, numbers or logic, pictures, music, the body, the natural world, social interaction, and/or personal experiences.The eight major intelligences are:
Linguistic: The ability to use language to express what’s on our minds and to understand other people (e.g. word games, spelling, reading books, and looking at pictures)
Logical-mathematical: The ability to think logically and to use and manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations (e.g. science experiments, math, Lego, and construction)
Spatial: The ability to represent the spatial world in one’s mind (e.g. art and craft activities)
Musical: The ability to perceive and understand patterns of sound as well as creating and communicating meaning from sound (e.g. playing instruments, listening to music, composition, singing)
Bodily-kinesthetic: The ability to use fine and gross motor abilities (e.g. moving to music, playing dress-up, puppet shows)
Interpersonal: The ability to understand people and relationships (e.g. team games and activities)
Intra-personal: The ability to understand oneself, one’s thoughts and feelings (e.g. working alone and independently)
Naturalist: The ability to understand and work with the natural world and the environment (e.g. gardening, looking at insects)
Why should parents consider it?
A curriculum that incorporates the Multiple Intelligences theory strives to develop children’s full potential in a dynamic, play-based, and supportive environment. Teaching methods focus on children’s individual abilities and needs. Activities planned the teachers are more student-centered than traditional academic activities.
How well does this education system prepare students for the real world?
Children are taught to become self-confident, get along well with others, be problem solvers, make good choices, and see themselves as children with good ideas – all of which are valuable life skills.
Spotlight: The Kropf Family
Francesca Kropf is a full-time mom. Of dual Italian and German citizenship, she and her family have been living in Beijing for three and a half years. One of her three children – 5-year-old Giulia – attends Ivy Bilingual Schools’ Orchid Garden Campus.
Why did you choose Multiple Intelligences?
There are many reasons why we like the Multiple Intelligences curriculum. In Germany, we have a similar curriculum and have had positive experiences with Giulia’s elder sister and brother there. The kids learn to develop different skills and find out their own talents, strengths and special attributes. The curriculum also satisfies children’s curiosity on many different topics so learning doesn’t get boring for them. By combining learning and playing, the children still can be just children and learning does not becoming “work.” More importantly, they learn to solve real-life tasks. We love it that the Multiple Intelligences curriculum prepares children with the necessary skills for school, work and life.
What are the advantages of the curriculum?
Giulia has many interests such as sports, dancing, drawing, art, science, reading and writing, and learning about different countries and cultures. This kind of curriculum is definitely the best for her. She loves the school and the way teachers work with her. Not only did she develop self-confidence, but she also acquired great soft skills and learned how to work in a team.
What are the drawbacks?
We don’t see any real drawbacks. Perhaps some parents might feel that children don´t specialize in some topics, but I think that’s something can be done through after-school activities.
What else would you like to share about your child’s progress?
At the beginning, Giulia was a shy girl and wanted to do only the things she liked. But with the help of Ivy Schools and her wonderful teachers, she has developed great self-confidence and is eager to explore new things. She was also able to develop her soft skills, such as always being willing to help others. She is well-prepared for going to school next year!