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In order to help all students learn better, Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson advisesclassroom teachers to teach "triarchically," which means to teach students how to analyze, do, and create.
• Some of the time, teach
analyically, helping students learn to analyze, evaluate, contrast, critque and judge.
• Some of the time, teach practically, helping students learn to apply, use, utllize, textualize, implement, and put into practice.
• Some of the time, teach creatively, helping students learn to create, invent, imagine, explore, and suppose.
• Much of the time, enable all students to capitalize on their strengths.
Most of the time, enable all students to correct or compensate for their weaknesses.
• Make sure your assessments match your teaching, calling upon analytical, creative and practical as well as memory skills.
• Value the diverse patterns of abilities in all students.
Tomlinson's recommendation is based to some extent on Robert J Sternberg's general theory of intelligence, the triarchic theory (1981,
1988, 1993). Sternberg's theory, outlined in his seminal work, The Triarchic Mind: A New Theory of Intelligence (NY: Viking Press, 1988), states that intelligence consists of three fundamental aspects: analytical abilities, creative
abilities, and practical abilities.
Analytical ability (componential intelligence) is essentially critical thinking and problem-solving. It is what intelligence tests typically measure and thus what our
current education system emphasizes and rewards. Creative ability (experiential intelligence) is the capacity to generate new ideas and new ways to solve problems. Practical ability (contextual intelligence) is
one’s ability to understand what is needed in a given situation and respond effectively to the circumstances. To sum the three parts up, think of it like this: “You need creative intelligence to come up with an idea, analytical intelligence to
know if it’s a good idea, and practical intelligence to sell it.”
Sternberg's theory broadens our understanding of what intelligence really is. It is not an entirely new idea. There is a close link to that of Aristotle’s
2,300-year-old premise that intelligence is composed of three aspects: theoretical, practical, and productive intelligence.
Sternberg's research suggests that his view of education has clear implications for classroom teaching. His research studies
show that many students can learn more effectively if they are taught in a way that better matches their patterns of abilities. Teaching for what he calls successful intelligence provides a way to create such a match. It involves
helping all students capitalize on their strengths and compensate for or correct their weaknesses. (Sternberg, Successful Intelligence In The Classroom, The
Ohio State University, 2004.)
Getting a clear and accurate picture of student learning over time requires assessing in a similiar manner. In his book, Talk About Assessment: Strategies to Improve Learning (Nelson Canada, 2006), Damian Cooper, a Canadian educational consultant, recommends a similar approach to teaching and assessment. Cooper states that an accurate and fair picture of student learning must
be based on the "triangulation of data." This means that assessment must consist of three types of assessment: write,
say, & do. This recommendation has since been fine-tuned to four types: write, say, make, & do.
Teaching triarchically also
means being extremely selective about the material taught. The book, Intelligence, Instruction, and Assessment: Theory Into Practice, 1998, edited by Robert J Sternberg and Wendy M. Williams, states that students learn better when teachers
are more selective about what they teach and make clear to students what is really worth learning. In Ontario we call these learning goals. Damian Cooper and Carol Ann Tomlinson are in agreement with Sternberg's viewpoint.