Learning 'through' or learning 'about'? The ridiculous and extravagant medium of opera: Gardner's multiple intelligences in pre-service teacher education

Year: 2003

Author: White, Julie, Dixon, Mary, Smerdon, Lynda

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In recent years, pre-service teacher education has attempted to incorporate into programs an understanding of Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences as it applies to schools. In this paper the tension between 'learning about' multiple intelligences and 'learning through' multiple intelligences supports Gardner's (1993) distinction between 'understanding' and 'coverage'. This paper examines the use of the performing arts in the professional studies component of our teacher education program. During 2002 at The University of Melbourne, a group of primary and secondary students were offered the opportunity to develop an opera in order to learn about assessment and curriculum. Thirty-seven of the students volunteered to be involved and over a period of six months met this challenge. Our action research study asked two critical questions. To what extent is the understanding of multiple intelligences by pre-service teachers improved by 'learning through'? Can pre-service teachers address fundamental issues in curriculum and assessment through the development of a performance? This experience would be of value to other teacher educators.