Tag Archives: multiple intelligences

everyone knows that pt 2 – intelligent questions

I’ll admit it. I was a bit snarky when I wrote about adapting what we teach for different learning styles and intelligences. But sometimes snarky in the service of thinking is helpful.

It is easier, however, to tell people what they ought to do than to show them how they could do. So, at the risk of being religious-sounding, I’d like to offer an example of adapting instruction to differences in thinking and learning.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be talking with a group of people about what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father.” Many of you have heard of it, have heard it, or have even said it.

Here are some questions that use and challenge multiple intelligences (to use Howard Gardner’s term) to stimulate different kinds of thinking about this familiar text.

  • When was the first time you heard it? When was the last?
  • When you think of these words, what color comes to mind?
  • If you watched the Ken Burns special on National Parks recently, which park could you see this prayer being repeated? (When Jesus was teaching it, everyone was on a hillside, sitting on rocks, on the ground).
  • Is this a speech or a conversation? What difference would that make?
  • As you listen to the words, is there a sequence of requests (I ask A. You do A. I then ask B. You do B).
  • In the text, there is an us (“Give us this day our daily bread”). That suggests that there may be several people involved in this prayer. When Jesus is saying it for the first time, where are they sitting? Are they looking at each other? Are they all repeating it together or taking turns? And is he suggesting that it be an individual or a group conversation?
  • Is Jesus writing a formula, an equation of some sort?
  • Do you think that Jesus is describing how he talks to his Dad? Does that change how you think of the tone of voice of this prayer?
  • Think of all the musical versions of this text. Now, think of doing your own. Does it make more sense as a Bach anthem or as improvisational jazz? What instrumentation would you use to arrange it for your life?
  • Read it out loud. If you were talking to someone across the room, how loud would you say it? Try that. If you were talking to someone right next to you, how would you change your voice? Try it. If you weren’t talking to anyone but yourself, how would that sound?

As you read through the questions, it was likely that you read some and thought “Who would think that” and read others and thought “Oh, that’s easy.” That’s the point. We are different. Now, imagine that all the questions were of the kind that you don’t understand. That’s what we do to parts of our audience/group/congregation/whatever when we don’t take the time to think about how people learn or we ask questions that are comfortable to us.

And if you are interested in helping people understand how to talk to God, for example, or whatever you are teaching, doesn’t that time investment make sense?


For more on this particular text, see my posts at 300wordsaday.com starting with Our Father in heaven


but everyone knows that

Sometimes I think that. I get ready to write a post and think, “But everyone already knows that.” I think, “But that is summarized in a bunch of places.” I think, “It must be summarized somewhere, right?”

I’m sure it is.

But maybe someone reading your posts, listening to your teaching, working in your office has never heard of what you are saying.

For example, everyone knows that there are seven different intelligences, right? Some people are word smart. Others are math (logic), or people, or body, or music smart. Others learn best by talking to themselves or by seeing diagrams.

And everyone knows that if you want to help people who are people smart learn, you won’t put them in a lecture, you’ll put them in a study group. Right? And if you want to help people who think visually, you will give them a picture, help them create a diagram, show them a photograph and given them silence to let them listen to it.

tough neighborhoodAnd everyone knows that you aren’t weird just because you have to take a walk after listening to three conference presentations in a row, just because walking helps you figure out what someone just said.

Everyone knows that stuff, right?

Which is why no one makes the primary way to deliver content in a  conference the words anymore, right? Which is why no one ever says, “I know that I should have more interaction, more movement, more scent or music or poetry…but in the interest of time I’ll just talk.”

Which is why if you are teaching people about loving one another, you would always actually help people to sing together and work together and play together and listen together and talk together and see together and dance together.

Everyone knows that we shouldn’t do that, right?

So I suppose it shouldn’t trouble me that the measure of knowing is a change in behavior.


If you don’t know that, here’s Howard Gardner’s “theory of multiple intelligences”.

And for a previous post in this series on learning and teaching, see “so what, exactly, do you want them to learn?