· Tips from T.D. Jakes, Ken Robinson, and Howard Gardner.
An introduction to a new book by T.D. Jakes, “DESTINY: Step into Your Purpose”, reads as follows: “Remember feeling a pull, sensing a magnetic guide that was leading you to the right place or person? DESTINY, that inner compass, directs you to fulfillment of your highest purpose. When you reflect on your life, you may be amazed that your greatest moments resulted from circumstances that you did not control or initiate. You were destined!
“Stepping into your destiny means fulfilling the role you were created to play in life. You thrive and find the greatest elixir of contentment when you have the courage to pursue your true purpose.
“Life offers more when destiny is our focus! Our divine purpose maneuvers us past challenges, pains, and shortcuts and even what appears on the surface to be failure. On deeper reflection, we understand them as catalysts that shift us toward authentic self-identity, greater exposure, and bold life adventures.”
The idea for purposeful teaching and learning then is to help the people identify where they can perform best based on their natural aptitudes or innate interests. And today, ways of personalizing education to elicit the sort of passion that excites the human spirit to release latent energy are at the threshold of teacher education.
Human intelligence is diverse. People have very different aptitudes which tend to direct us where we should go. It helps where one defines a purpose in life, and develops a passion for it: that is what excites our spirit and release our latent energies. As said by Ken Robinson, “if you’re doing the thing that you love to do, that you’re good at, time takes a different course entirely … if you’re doing something you love, an hour feels like five minutes. If you’re doing something that doesn’t resonate with your spirit, five minutes feels like an hour. And the reason so many people are opting out of education is because it doesn’t feed their spirit; it doesn’t feed their energy or their passion.
“And I think there are many possible explanations for it and high among them is education. Because education in a way dislocates very many people from their natural talents. And human resources are like natural resources. They are often buried deep. You have to go looking for them; they are not just lying around on the surface. You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves. And you might imagine that education would be the way that happens but too often it’s not.”
Human communities “depend upon a diversity of talents, not a singular conception of ability. At the heart of the challenge is to reconstitute our sense of ability and of intelligence. This linearity thing is a problem.”
Howard Gardner, in turn, defined intelligence as “the human ability to solve problems or make something that is valued in one or more cultures.” He said, “As long as we can find a culture that values an ability to solve a problem or create a product in a particular way, then I would strongly consider whether that ability should be considered an intelligence.”
“Rather than one or two intelligences, all humans have several intelligences. What makes life interesting, however, is that we don’t have the same strength in each intelligence area. This premise has very serious educational implications. If we treat every body as if they are the same, we’re catering to one profile of intelligence, the language-logic profile.” Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences is summarized as follows, informing the need to varied teaching and learning approaches to bring the best out of everybody:
- Verbal / Linguistic learners enjoy oral and written language. They prefer to communicate with others through speaking and writing. They tend to read widely. They learn best through listening, speaking, reading, telling, discussing, and writing.
- Logical / Mathematical learners love numbers of all kinds. These learners are able to think conceptually and to see numeric patterns.
- Visual / Spatial learners make mental pictures and images to help themselves learn and remember. They learn best with the opportunity to represent materials visually (such as in graphic organizers, art, pictures, mind maps, diagrams, layouts and designs).
- Bodily / Kinesthetic learners like to express themselves and their ideas through movement. They may have good muscles and / or fine-motor skills, and need to touch and do things. They learn best through action, hands-on activities, and the opportunity to manipulate materials or objects.
- Musical learners respond to rhythm, tone, pitch and musical patterns. They may or may not have musical skills, but they respond strongly to music. They learn best when learning is linked to their sense of rhythm and music.
- Interpersonal learners are “people persons.” They are often good at motivating others, organizing, and communicating. Many are passionate, empathetic and intuitive. They might use their leadership abilities as organizers of community services. They enjoy working and playing with others.
- Intrapersonal learners are thoughtful, reflective; and do not talk “by heart”. They examine opinions and perspectives to understand their own feelings about issues. They avoid gossip, and focus on ideas. They like their independence and learn best by reflecting, or working alone.
- Naturalist learners can adapt, and use their surroundings to succeed or survive. Some may be called “street smart.” They observe how systems work, and can be effective manipulators of situations and settings. They often feel a personal connection with the natural world, and the environment.