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Multisensory Learning Theory

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    Running Head: Multisensory Learning Multisensory Learning Cindy Price EDA University of Phoenix June 27, 2010 When people enter the educational world, their primary goals should be student achievement and creating an environment that their students are successful in. Some of the important factors in the creation of the most effective environment are the method of teaching, their personal educational philosophy and the learning theory that brings these factors together.

    There are several learning theories and theorists that we as educators learn about as we go through our studies and they vary from Constructivists to Multiple Intelligences to Multisensory. As we progress in the world of education, these learning theories are constantly changing in importance depending on the government, expectations and the type of curriculum we are focusing on. One thing we have seen is that over the years we go in a complete circle. Former curricular methods and theories are eventually revisited and put back in the forefront.

    One of the learning theories that has been visited several times is the Multisensory Learning theory. Elliot Eisner has provided us with a hands on cross curricular solution. As cited in Knowles and Cole, (2008), Eisner, being a strong advocate of the arts believes that the arts are invaluable in the classroom. He has shown us that through art, students are able to experience the concepts and skills taught through the use of all of their senses. As a result of this, the lesson becomes more meaningful and is one that they will always remember.

    Not only are the arts important for the students, he goes even further and explains the importance the arts and the six forms of qualitative thinking has on the entire world of education. Eisner has compiled a list of ten lessons that the arts teach. The use of art teaches “children to make good judgments” ( Eisner, 2005). Although, the correct answer is what the curriculum is geared towards; the arts are looking for judgments. This is an evaluative level of thinking; it is a higher level of thinking on the Blooms Taxonomy.

    The students are taught that problems have more than one answer. This is similar to the Math program we are enacting in my district. Investigations by Pearson is a math curriculum which allows the students to find the solutions on their own. The focus is on the procedure and individual student thinking (metacognition); not the answer. The students learn that there are many ways to view their surroundings. There are “multiple perspectives. ” (Eisner, n. d. ). It is not expected that the students see things in the same perspective as their classmates or even their teacher.

    Everyone has their own views and this is stressed in the Arts. In problem solving, they are taught that “purposes are seldom fixed, but change the circumstances and opportunity. ” (Eisner, n. d. ). The students need to be flexible and open to various solutions as they work on the problem. They learn that what they think should happen may not and that they may have to change the idea, way of thinking, the method, etc. They must always think through their problem or situation. They learn that words alone are not what are needed in order to define their thinking.

    Small differences can have a great effect on the problem and that by incorporating the arts, they in fact help the students say what cannot be said. Feelings are expressed more vividly, candidly and easily through the use of art in the classroom. When it comes to curriculum, the arts “symbolize to the young what adults believe is important. ” (Eisner,n. d. ) The arts enable the students to use a higher level of thinking and to experience the world through the use of all of their senses.

    They are able to express themselves in ways that in a more traditional test oriented curriculum they may not. Not only are the arts an important factor of this theory but there are six important forms of thinking. These forms are: “…(1) experiencing qualitative relationships and making judgments, (2) flexible purposing, (3) form and content is most often inextricable, (4) not everything knowable can be articulated in propositional form, (5) looking to the medium, and (6) the aesthetic satisfactions that the work itself makes possible. (Eisner, 2005). Through the combination of the six forms of thinking and the ten lessons that the arts teach, students are given a more broadened approach to the curriculum. They are able to see more than just the problem in front of them and solve it with the right answer. The Multisensory theory creates an environment that is aimed towards the qualitative thinking; the ability to go where the work takes them, (i. e. here may be a better way or a better solution that the students encounter as they proceed with the problem or activity; one that is truly unexpected); need to focus on the particular (not on the underlying messages); students know more than that which they can explain give them other medias to use to show their understanding not just the use of words, how the lesson is being presented and how the students are engaged and are they being stimulated. Curriculum is designed and then it ultimately designs us. (Eisner, 2005) It essentially determines how we teach and how the environment of the classroom shall be.

    How the multisensory theory designs the curriculum is by making it more student centered and exploratory. It is a curriculum that incorporates more hands on and stimulating experiences for the students and the teachers to engage in. There is more than one medium being used and a higher level of thinking is expected. The environment is one in which students are able to express themselves with more than just words. They are able to show their individualism through the solution of the problems. There is a focus on how they got the answer not just on the answer.

    The Multisensory theory is able to be incorporated into any curriculum through the use of technology and differentiated instruction. These two mediums allow the students to be stimulated in ways that the traditional curriculum and teaching methods do not. The impact on the curriculum is tremendous. In a world where the right answer is what we are interested in, it throws a curveball. Multisensory learning will eventually be phased out in the 21st Century schools in the traditional sense; however, through the implementation of technology we may be able to resuscitate this theory.

    The world of education is going towards the standard based approach and its focus is on test scores, student achievement and creating a society of cookie cutter educators and students. However, although the curriculum is becoming more standard base, the focus is increasing on technology. This is allowing the students to experience the curriculum using more than one of their senses and it provides them with opportunities that they would not have if technology is not implemented.

    Unfortunately, as time goes on, there is less time being spent on igniting the creativity of the child and using all senses to teach the students the skills they need to be successful and more time concentrating on data, test scores, and critiquing the educators to find the reason for the fall or rise in these factors. Due to the increasing amount of accountability and the large amount of curriculum expectations that have to be met, there are fewer educators who are adding their own personal touches, using less music and arts in the classroom and do not put forth as much effort and dedication.

    Many are leaving the profession. The standards are being implemented in the classroom but what about the extras? The change in expectations on the educators and the students, the increasing amount of accountability and the sterility of the curriculum is causing the lifespan of the multisensory learning theory to slowing dissipate. Colleges are now creating educators whom are curriculum bound with blinders on, schedule oriented, and they are unable to think on their feet or to add some personal creativity to a lesson. The lessons are becoming more focused on the standards and expectations and less on the student.

    Through the implementation and the increased focus on technology and the differentiation of instruction, the multisensory theory is being kept alive. Unfortunately, many seasoned educators do not want to take the time to differentiate their instruction or learn all that they need in order to successfully implement technology in the classroom. Multisensory learning is beneficial for the success of all students in both the classroom and in their own world through the belief system that all problems have more than one solution and that there is more than one perspective.

    Through the implementation of the arts in the curriculum, all students in spite of the different learning styles will have the same chance to succeed. Even in the 21st century schools, with the focus shifting more towards the standards based approach, we will be able to implement this theory through the use of technology and differentiated instruction. This theory affects everything in the world of education, the educators, the environment, the students and the curriculum. The one point we must remember is although the curriculum is designed, it ultimately designs us as well. References Dupuis, M. 2005). Multisensory Learning, retrieved on June 25, 2010 from http://instructor. aviation. ca/content/view/85/75 Eisner, E. (2005). What can education learn from the arts about the practice of education? The encyclopedia of informal education retrieved on June 25, 2010 from www. infed. org/biblio/eisner_arrts_and_the_practice_of_education. htm Eisner, E (n. d. ). Ten Lessons the Arts Teach, retrieved on June 25, 2010 from www. oregonfoto. org/subroutines/eisner. html Knowles, J. G. & Cole, A (Eds. ) (2008). Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

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