The Personal Intelligences in the Early Childhood Classroom
The social development of young children has traditionally been marked by observable behaviors such as sharing (Chen, 1998). Jie-Qi Chen, the editor of Project Spectrum’s Early Learning Activities (1998, p. 171) explains that a curriculum that utilizes the multiple intelligence theory approaches social development through “children’s perceptions and understandings, on how they view the world of social relationships and their role within it.” The “observable behavioral” view identifies social abilities. The view expressed by Chen takes responsibility for children’s social development and involves the internal processes that are responsible for emotions and relationships.
The social development of elementary-school children has traditionally been addressed in a deficit archetype. Intrapersonal deficits are addressed in the disciplinary or remedial realm of the classroom. The child who does not have self-control is punished. The child who cannot manage or channel emotions appropriately is punished or referred for special education. The child who exhibits severe emotional difficulties is placed in an emotional support class. Waiting until a problem exists is too late (Karr-Morse and Wiley, 1997). The multiple-intelligence theory looks at intra/interpersonal potential as critically as other potentials. Intra/interpersonal development is vital to success in the classroom (Gardner, 1993) and to success in life (Goleman, 1995). Intra/interpersonal intelligence in the early childhood classroom is addressed through the purposeful planning, attention, and inclusion of intra/interpersonal content and materials. Successful implementation of the personal intelligences is facilitated through the following principles:
- Emotions are not limited to the personal intelligences (Greenspan, 1997; Gardner, 1999).
- The personal intelligences develop in stages. These stages emphasize a specific crisis. The resolution of the crisis sets the foundation for the resolution of the next crisis (Erikson, 1963).
- Intra/interpersonal intelligence requires an emotionally safe environment (Bluestein, 2001).
- It is essential to establish a sense of community in the classroom (Vance and Weaver, 2002) in order to develop the personal intelligences.
- Relationships are crucial to the child’s emotional development and the child’s ability to learn (Greenspan, 1997). It is through social interaction that emotions develop (Greenspan, 1997; Hyson, 1994).
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