Educating The Whole Child – What Does That Really Mean?

Ever known a math whiz that can’t jump rope? Or maybe you know the world’s most competent linguist who is also tone deaf. How about a wise old soul that can’t balance a checkbook?  “Smart” is not one thing, hence terms like “book smart,” “street smart,” “wisdom” and “common sense.”

Howard Gardner, American developmental psychologist and professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, developed the theory of multiple intelligences and revolutionized the way educators think about learning. In his book, Frames of Mind, he outlines the types of intelligences, claiming that people process information in several different, independent ways.  This thinking has changed the way educators regard learning because it deconstructs the idea of one “general” intelligence ruling someone’s abilities.

So, how does this relate to Waldorf? Waldorf educators, under the direction of Austrian scientist and philosopher, Rudolph Steiner, have been focusing on the education of the whole child since the late 19th century. For Steiner, this meant the integration of arts into curriculum, inclusion of cross-hemispherical brain exercises, and focus on developing multiple intelligences through a comprehensive system of education.

Waldorf schools focus on fostering these nine intelligences, seven of which have been outlined by Gardner:

  • Verbal / linguistic
  • Logical/ mathematical
  • Body/ kinesthetic
  • Visual/ spatial
  • Music/ rhythmic
  • Interpersonal
  •  Intrapersonal
  •  Naturalistic
  • Spiritualistic

In our next post, we’ll discuss how each of these is fostered in the Waldorf classroom.

2 thoughts on “Educating The Whole Child – What Does That Really Mean?

  1. Hi Rodrigo. Thank you for your interest!

    The intelligences are being covered one by one in a series and so I can not advance you the work, but the series is almost complete now and can be found by clicking the research link on the left. Enjoy! And please weigh in with questions and comments.

  2. I am very interested in your next post about how Waldorf schools focus on fostering the nine intelligences. Do you think you can share with me an advance of your article? I’ll appreciate it a lot. Thank you very much.

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