Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Hannah Hauxwell - Postscript: “Neuromyths”

Dr Martin Westwell’s keynote speech on the exciting possibilities for the “future of the mind”, was, for me, one of the highlights of the conference. I was disappointed, however, to hear him dismiss learning styles as a “neuromyth”.
I would like to say a few things in defence of multiple intelligences theory (MI). Unlike some learning styles approaches, MI is a psychological theory first and a pedagogy second. Gardner demonstrates that the theory is based on sound evidence from many fields of study. Also, he argues that the concept of IQ itself is not as robust as is sometimes claimed.
Learning styles can be applied in quite superficial ways, such as the “visual learners’ table” mentioned by Dr Westwell; effective application of multiple intelligences theory is more subtle and more complex than this. MI provides a vocabulary for teaching and learning, and is useful for describing and analysing information scenarios. For examples, trends towards greater use of multimedia can be seen as a broadening of approach to encompass more than the traditional “academic” intelligences. Thus I believe that MI can be a useful tool for reflection, even if its scientific veracity is not universally accepted.
Hannah Hauxwell
June 2007