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Song, dance and science

Use your non-academic talents to tackle a difficult subject Vimal Chander Joshi Reports

education Updated: Oct 23, 2009 17:11 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

Not good at science subjects but like to play music? There’s hope for you, as your ‘musical quotient’ can help you take on science, claim the proponents of the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI).

Under this theory, there are eight parameters on which you are assessed — knack for music, sports, maths, pictures, linguistics, meeting people, exploring self and nature — and not just on the basis of your logical and reasoning abilities. The entire learning process should be devised once you know what your strengths are.

Dr Branton Shearer, president of Multiple Intelligences Research and Consulting, US, explains how the MI system works:

How is it possible to improve one’s understanding of a subject or discipline through music or dance?
Yes, initially it seems difficult, but through enchanting songs and lyrics, one can explain and learn the fundamentals of certain subjects.

Can you give an example to explain how the MI system works?
Let’s presume a group of students in a class loves to perform in plays and it has a topic to learn about diverse cultures and customs in India. The students can write a skit in which each comes from one different state of the country. Through role play, you can make all of them participate. Having enacted the role, there would be very few chances of any of them forgetting the chapter.

What are the other ways to make a topic simpler?
Another method is through gestures. Like if you are explaining something about the judiciary, slam your fist on the table, similar to a judge bringing down the gavel. These ‘symbolic’ gestures also help explain things differently. One can also learn science through dance. The function of a cell in the body can be explained through group dance. Students can be made to emulate a cell — the way it changes. The inherent trait of all these tools is individual attention to each student.

Teachers and parents apparently play very important roles where the MI system is concerned. How’s that?
Certainly, they have significant roles. A teacher has to judge the intelligence of students and divide them into groups. Students in each group should have a similar bent of mind. Then the teaching techniques can be adapted according to the requirements of the group. It’s a slow process but works effectively in the long run.

Did you also have problems studying subjects you didn’t like?
Yes, most of us do. I was a B-grader and took a long break of nine years after I finished school. I worked as a carpenter and discovered I didn’t have the visual skills needed to be a carpenter. But a chance encounter with a teaching job at a carpentry school made me realise that I was good at interpersonal skills.

Later, I studied psychology, education and counselling, did my Master’s and later a doctorate through independent study (distance learning). Just one appropriate career choice brought a complete turnaround. It’s all about spotting your strengths and weaknesses rightly.