Continued from Page xi – Although he got an A on his demonstration, he could not find the correct words to describe the process and answer questions on it for the written test. He received an overall grade of “C” on the test, even though his teacher was certain he “knew” the information.

While his memory of what was learned was stored in a sensory-motor pattern in his brain, J.P. was not able to gain access to it and convert it into words for the written test. For all practical purposes, he had only a “physical sense” of the information and had not linked it to the  pictures and associations needed to trigger the words required to pass the written test.

Like J.P., many children may not be able to convert their physical , experiential knowledge into writing during traditional testing. It is not a function of ignorance of the information but of now knowing how to access and translate the information into writing.

When J.P. was allowed to use his learning preference, he demonstrated his knowledge of the shifting earthquake plates. However, he not acquire or store the same knowledge using other, more visual brain pathways that would have allowed him to earn a better grade on his written test, which contained multiple choice, short answers and essay questions.

J.P.’s experience is an example of a conflict between how students learn and how they are tested. This conflict also creates a serious dilemma for teachers.

For many years, teachers have been trained in a theory known as multiple intelligences (MI). The theory of multiple intelligences, developed in the early 1980’s bye Dr. Howard Gardner (Frames of Mind, 1983), expanded on Dr. J.P. Guilford’s original and ground-breaking work on human intelligence (Guilford 1950, 1967).

Teachers trained in the multiple intelligences tradition are taught to design different types of lesson plans for eight or more types of intelligences and teach students to access all eight of their ways if knowing. Problems arise for both teachers and students when most districts still require single modality, written, and standardized tests to be the primary measurements for student progress. Today teachers are held accountable for those test results.

more on page xiii

Copyright Pat Wyman, All Rights Reserved.  This information may not be reprinted without express permission from the author.


Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of