Making film, making the mind

Matthew Baganz

Providing for all multiple intelligences in a classroom can be an extraordinary endeavour. A lesson for 20 students may require 40 different teaching strategies to be considered truly best practice. Howard Gardner explains that “all individuals harbour numerous internal representations in their minds,” referring to the eight multiple intelligences which are organized in a structure with hierarchical and systematic implications. One student considered a “musical” learner may grasp multiplication best by singing notes descending in scale as number facts become larger. That same student, however, may become lost in a song about states of matter because when it comes to physics, her mind prefers to ‘speak’ in a bodily-kinesthetic “intellectual language” (Gardner 70) when negotiating such concepts, so she rather needs to run around impersonating a molecule in a liquid and slow to a crawl as she ‘freezes’ into a solid. There is certainly no adequate one-size-fits-all pedagogical approach to any lesson, and there may not even be a one-size-fits-one.

acting “If one wants to educate for genuine understanding, then, it is important to identify these early representations, appreciate their power, and confront them directly and repeatedly” (Gardner 71). Classroom filmmaking is a practical, user-friendly approach to incorporating all multiple intelligences within the parameters of a single project. The filming experience offers opportunities for students to accommodate the diversity of their cognitive capacities through various roles and responsibilities. Students may be assigned to parts that cater to their preferred mental processers, or teachers might allow students to select their own duties, perhaps revealing their true dominant intelligences naturally. Supported by pedagogical theory and exemplary of experiential learning, classroom filmmaking is an engaging and effective venture where all students are included and inspired to achieve their highest potentials.

Relevance to education frameworks
The multiple intelligence-laden filmmaking experience finds its place in India’s National Curriculum Framework (2005) in multiple areas. Under section 4.6.3 Educational Technology (ET), the framework states that ET “must treat the majority of teachers and children not merely as consumers but also as active producers.” Students should not only be passively watching films, but actively creating them. It continues to state that “such experiences… could include something as simple as the audio-recording of an interview with a village elder, to making a video film or video game. Providing children more direct access to multimedia equipment and Information Communication Technology (ICT), and allowing them to mix and make their own productions and to present their own experience, could provide them with new opportunities to explore their own creative imagination” (92).

In their article, “Multimedia and Multiple Intelligences,” Veenema and Gardner suggest “the ‘opening up’ of the educational process to the widest spectrum of children, especially those who do not stand out in the traditional canonical intelligences of language and logic” (71). The National Curriculum Framework supports this in its Policy of Inclusion (section 4.3.2), where it states that “opportunities need to be given to all children and their specific abilities need to be recognized and appreciated…. When planning, therefore, teachers must pay special attention to ensuring the participation of all” (85).

Some suggestions under the Major Shifts in Teacher Education (section 5.2.3) include switching “from teacher direction and decisions to learner autonomy… passive reception in learning to active participation in learning… [and] knowledge as ‘given’ and fixed to knowledge as it evolves and is created” (110) – all benefits of a student-led filmmaking project.

The author holds a Master’s degree in Multicultural Education and is the PYP 5 Classroom Teacher and PYP Maths Coordinator at Strothoff International School in Dreieich, Germany. He can be reached at matthewbaganz@gmail.com.

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