How do Writers get Symbolism into their Writing?

December 8, 2011

A “symbol” grows in its own way, out of the facts

— Saul Bellow (1963). (via Butler, 2011 in The Paris Review).

Bruce McAllister wrote 150 authors asking if they intentionally put symbolism in their writing. The year was 1963 and McAllister was 16 at the time. Sarah Butler has posted some of the 75 responses McAllister received.

The responses are quite facinating and quite diverse. One common theme, though, was well expressed in the answers to the question, “Do you feel you consciously plan and place symbolism in your writing?”

  • Ralph Ellison:
    • “Symbolism arises out of action and functions best in fiction when it does so. Once a writer is conscious of the implicit symbolisms which arise in the course of a narrative, he may take advantage of them and manipulate them consciously as a further resource of his art. Symbols which are imposed upon fiction from the outside tend to leave the reader dissatisfied by making him aware that something extraneous has been added.”

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. How do Writers get Symbolism into their Writing?, Retrieved September 25th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Multiple Intelligences

August 22, 2010

The cycle of work. Within each subject area there are different types of assignments designed to provoke learning in many different styles.

The lessons, the individual works, the different group works, the reading; they’re all set up in this elaborate combination so that different students with different learning styles can get the information they need in the way that’s most meaningful to them. But the students also get to experience a wide range of learning styles so that they can become acclimatized to the different styles while actually figuring out which ones work best for them.

The logic behind this approach comes from Howard Gardner’s ideas on multiple intelligences. He argues that we have aptitudes for different ways of learning, and learning is easier and faster if students take advantage of their preferred learning styles. Whether we acquire these preferences through nature or nurture is an intriguing question, but by middle school I’ve found that it does not take long to recognize that some students have rather strong preferences.

[T]here exists a multitude of intelligences, quite independent of each other; that each intelligence has its own strengths and constraints; that the mind is far from unencumbered at birth; and that it is unexpectedly difficult to teach things that go against early ‘naive’ theories of that challenge the natural lines of force within an intelligence and its matching domains. – Gardner (1993) p. xix.

The learning intelligences have been defined in a number of different ways (see Smith, 2008 and BGfL for examples). We parse them like this:

  • Linguistic intelligence – learning from the written word or hearing words (auditory).
  • Logical/Math – using numbers and logical reasoning.
  • Bodily-kinesthetic – learning from doing.
  • Visual/Spatial – emphasizes images and relationships in space.
  • Interpersonal – learning from/with others.
  • Intrapersonal – introspective learning.
  • Musical – rhythm is important
  • Naturalistic – comprehending of the environment.

I prefer students to discover their preferred intelligences via the variations convolved into the curriculum, however, the BGfL has an online, multiple intelligences test that I’ve used in the past. However, as with standardized tests, you don’t want to stereotype students or have them stereotype themselves. All the intelligences interact. Different challenges force us to take different approaches, using different combinations of our intelligences to best effect. As always, a growth mindset is best. With their mental plasticity, adolescence is the best time to explore different learning approaches.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2010. Multiple Intelligences, Retrieved September 25th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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