Oxford Prep rejects 'one size fits all'
For McLeod, the theory has paid off.
The recent Cal Poly Pomona liberal arts valedictorian attended Country Springs Elementary School in Chino Hills when it opened in 1994 under the direction of then-Principal Sue Roche.
Roche instituted a multiple-intelligence-based learning program at Country Springs Elementary.
Starting in September, McLeod, 22, will teach at Oxford Preparatory Academy, a new charter school where Roche will be executive director and where multiple intelligence-based learning will be implemented.
Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner created multiple intelligence learning in 1983. The theory suggests student learning is optimized when the material is taught using students' preferred way of learning new things, whether it be musically, physically, verbally, visually as well as other learning styles.
"Everyone has their own style of learning," McLeod said. "If we pigeon-hole kids into one style of learning, I think we eliminate the other different types of learning. With multiple intelligence learning, we encourage kids that they can be successful and that they will succeed."
Multiple intelligence supporters say students are gifted and able learners but learn subjects in different ways based on learning styles to which they are more suited.
For example, some students may be more mathematical while others
Teachers use a variety of methods to touch on each of a student's learning strengths.
For instance, children can learn math through a music lesson or geography though a playground blacktop embedded with facts.
McLeod described his learning strength as "bodily kinesthetic," which includes people who are adept at sports and learn best through physical movement.
He said he is excited about bringing his personal experience with multiple intelligence learning to a new group of students.
"Our philosophy is that every student has the ability to learn and no student is classified into different levels - all students can learn at a high level if we teach them what the correct methods are using their strengths through multiple intelligence learning," McLeod said.
Roche says the method isn't new and has been used by teachers in California and the United States.
Roche's approach is different because the theory will be implemented for the entire school.
Jackie Ernst, whose daughter will enter Oxford Prep in the fall, was enthusiastic about multiple-intelligence-based learning.
"The status quo for the entire nation is `one-size-fits-all' education," Ernst said.
"You teach to the middle, the average. The ones at the bottom don't get what they need and the ones at the top don't get what they need unless you get them in a special class.
"Multiple intelligence is effective because it finds out how a student learns best and it teaches the child that way."