A Multiple Intelligence Approach to Healthy Active Living in High School

Article excerpt

Successful graduates of physical and health education programs demonstrate the commitment and the capacity to lead a healthy, active life. (Ontario Physical and Health Education Association [OPHEA], 1996; Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 1996) Advocates of healthy active living subscribe to the notion that health is a resource for daily living that takes into account all the factors that contribute to psychological, social, cultural, and physical well-being (OPHEA). As such, health is a conceptual lens through which persons might view themselves and their communities.

The knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to personal health management, health promotion, and health education are best achieved in programs that are comprehensive and interdisciplinary. Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory (MI theory) (Gardner, 1983) can be thought of as (l) the engine that activates learners to develop the knowledge, competencies, and appreciation associated with healthy active living and (2) the magnet that draws subject matter specialists, community agencies, and social supporters together to promote healthy active living. Just as engines get things moving, MI theory activates students' minds. It also encourages students to think about content beyond the traditional boundaries, and from different perspectives. Like all good magnets, MI theory attracts. Community agencies, other teachers, and parents frequently are drawn into the study sphere. As students begin to study different aspects of health and physical activity, they begin to explore their relationships to community services, government policies and programs, and particular socio/cultural values and ambitions. Alternative and varied socio/political/cultural views add depth and breadth to the study of healthy active living.

In this article, we provide (1) a framework for healthy active living, (2) a summary description of Gardner's seven intelligences, and (3) an example of the way MI theory fosters the disciplinary relationships, pedagogic practices, and student outcomes associated with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to healthy active living. Before we discuss the applications of the multiple intelligence learning approach we explore the main components that contribute to healthy active living. We also identify, common barriers and address typically asked questions.

Healthy Active Living Framework

Healthy active living generates students' health in many other high school academic pursuits. Teachers, schools, communities, and parents must streamline and coordinate the many different services and programs that are needed to respond to the health needs of children and youth. Quality school health and quality daily physical education are intended to work synergistically to promote healthy active living, while obesity, poor eating habits, inactivity, substance abuse and risky sexual practices have put the health of many students in jeopardy [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED].

Quality School Health Programs

Successful, quality, school health programs integrate health and community services with student needs and student environments in which students and educators live, learn, and work. Quality school health (QSH) programs weave together four basic components: health education curriculum (includes formal and informal instruction), support services for students, social support, and healthy physical environments. The policies, programs, services, and activities created within this framework are the responsibility of young people, parents, health and social service professionals, educators, institutions, agencies, and governments.

Health Education Curriculum

What does the health education curriculum contribute to healthy active living? Typically, it states the outcomes (knowledge skills, attitudes), indicators, and standards associated with healthy active living. Within the curriculum are strands or areas of concentration that include growth and development, nutrition, relationships, health careers, personal safety and injury prevention, and substance abuse. …