Academic journal article International Education

Integrating Thinking, Art and Language in Teaching Young Children

Academic journal article International Education

Integrating Thinking, Art and Language in Teaching Young Children

Article excerpt

How to maximize children's learning outcomes has been one of the most important topics for educators and researchers to explore. Many aspects that may lead to better understanding about learning and teaching have been discussed and examined. Some raise the importance of making connections between students' existing knowledge or ability and new information, students' handson experience, and personal exploration in learning (Dewey, 1938; Ogle, 1986, 1989; Piaget, 1969). Others argue that the impact of social interaction, culture and community on learning must be taken into consideration (Dixon-Kraus, 1996; Gleason & Ratner, 2009; Heath, 1983; Vygotsky, 1978).

The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) acknowledges various capacities that make up the mind (Gardner, 1983). It implies that distinction exists in how individuals deploy intelligences. Although an intelligence is defined as the biopsychological potential to process information in certain ways for the purpose of problem solving, the theory has an impact on the teaching and learning in the classroom. Gardner argues that people are not born with all of the intelligences that can be learned and improved. Everyone is intelligent in various ways and can develop each aspect to increase competency. For classroom application, Armstrong (1994) specifies that in the MI classroom, teachers continually shift their method of presentation from linguistic to spatial to musical, often integrating intelligences creatively. Because all intelligences can be possessed by students collectively, it is appropriate to address as many intelligences as possible in lesson planning for classroom instruction (Borek, 2003).

Campbell (1996) conducted action research in his classroom. He created seven learning centers each focusing on one of the seven intelligences and students had opportunities to rotate and complete learning tasks in these centers. "The daily work at the seven centers profoundly influences their ability to make informative, entertaining, multimodal presentations of their studies" (p. 3). The results regarding the impact on students who participated in the project include improved academic achievements, increased responsibility and independence, and improved cooperative learning skills.

Thinking is considered an important element in education, if not the most important, in the 21st century, according to Kagan (2003). Thinking is divided into three types: understanding information, manipulating information and generating information, and "information processing is the essence of thinking skills" (Kagan, 2003, p. 2). Additionally, the approaches in teaching thinking skills include the specific approach to having thinking skills embedded in the school subjects (Hamers, Luit & Csapo, 1999).

The study by Rogers (2008) examined the infusion of another intelligence or art in teaching and learning to respond to "a lack of understanding that using art in other core subjects, through arts infused instruction, is significant" (p. 5). Children may learn differently and integration of art in teaching can serve to better facilitate student learning than traditional learning techniques such as lecturing in front of the students. In another study, Souto-Manning and James (2008) explore the application of arts in first grade classrooms to promote literacy and learning through an integrated fashion. Suggestions are provided to teachers on how to present students with learning opportunities that are meaningful and engaging.

Similarly, rhyming lyrics and rhythm can be aids to learning. Turner (2008) describes how to use memorable tunes to create lyrics as a means to learn the content of social studies. This activity leads to lessons that are not easily forgotten. Also, rhythm, rhyme and singing appear to increase learning in an environment that is filled with eye-catching posters and decorations (Mclntire, 2007).

Moreover, the effect of multiple intelligences on elementary or K-6 students is summarized in the study by Johnson (2007). …

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