First Steps – who is a learner?

By Judianne Jayme


JudianneGreetings from Manitoba! I am humbled to be starting an education-based column for The Filipino Canadian. I am a Grade 6 educator wrapping up my fourth year of teaching in the Winnipeg School Division. Voluntarily, I am also a trained mentor for new educators. My involvement in the community focuses on empowering youth, women, and assisting immigrants. I serve as a Member at Large on the board of directors for the Manitoba ENTRY program. I maintain a column of the same name for Winnipeg-based Pilipino Express ( On a personal level, I am a leader in my church home group and I’m an avid traveler and travel blogger (!

Judianne WebLet me begin my first article for this column by asking you a question: If I told you someone was smart, what qualities would that person have?

When I ask sixth graders this in September, they usually tell me that a smart person is good at math, or writing, or someone who gets good grades and perfect scores. I then give them a familiar situation. “Would you say Stephen Curry is smart? How is he smart? What about Taylor Swift? How is she smart?” Then the conversation of learning begins.

In educational terms, this is metacognition, or “learning about learning.” We have to change our mindset of how the word “smart” is defined. A study by Howard Gardner introduced the world to the concept of Multiple Intelligences – and with recent studies, the original eight intelligences has been expanded with the most I’ve seen at 10.

The original eight intelligences identified are:

  • Linguistic (language, reading, writing, being able to speak eloquently and persuasively)
  • Logical-Mathematical (problem-solving, linear/logical reasoning)
  • Visual-Spatial (visualizing skills, artistic ability, fine details)
  • Musical (create, comprehend, appreciate music)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic (movement, dance, sports, body control)
  • Interpersonal (social, working as a team, awareness of others’ moods, needs, etc.)
  • Intrapersonal (awareness of own feelings, motives, desires, independence)
  • Naturalist (patterns in nature, classification in nature, ecology and ecosystems)

What I tell my students the very first week of school is that we are all smart, just in varying degrees in each of these intelligences.
Why do I do this? I focus on the whole learner. Education goes beyond just being able to do mathematical computations and writing persuasive essays. Education is a process and journey of celebrating growth in all types of learning. With enough practice, any intelligence that one is weak in can be developed. Metacognition lends itself to self-awareness which, when encouraged at a young age, creates critical thinkers who are more confident in their ability to face challenges.

Parent Tip: What kind of learners are in your home?

Knowing this theory, think about your own skills and talents, and that of your family. What are your child’s strengths? What intelligences might they be struggling in? How do we celebrate our children’s growth in these intelligences?

We must step away from focusing solely on what a child is lacking, and working towards building self-awareness of their learning. When we encourage children in an educational context, we celebrate their strengths – they see that we have faith in both their abilities and potential. We show that we support them should they choose to take risks in an intelligence they did not feel confident in previously.

Consider this quotation when you take a deeper look at your own intelligences and that of your children. This is one I discovered in my first year of teaching, and one that framed my teaching philosophy.

“It’s not how smart you are, it’s how you are smart!” – Howard Gardner

How are you smart? Until next time, I wish you all the best as you go forth and celebrate your own and your family’s learning!



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2 Comments on First Steps – who is a learner?

  1. Great article. It’s true, each one of us has different talents. Parents need to encourage, affirm this to their children and help them achieve their utmost potentials.

    • It’s truly something I feel passionate about to ensure that students understand that they are capable of anything as soon as they are aware of their strengths as a learner and understand their learning styles.

      Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment!

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