Although not one of the original eight intelligences that Gardner categorized when he theorized learning styles, existentialism has its place with many students. Students who operate out of this intelligence are always searching for meaning and must question all choice and philosophies. Here are your deep thinkers. They may drive some of your other students because there is the tendency to read too much into everything. However, it is an important aspect of any form of education that we teach students to think critically. Existentialist thought has given birth to the concept of critical pedagogy. What does this look like in the language classroom? There are some projects related to literature and culture that some students can express their philosophical side. A popular way for students to explore their beliefs is through journaling exercise as a bell ringer.
Some educators may be tempted to preach, as opposed to teach, their personal philosophies or beliefs…tread lightly if this applies to you. The point is to help students learn the ability of developing choice, discovering themselves, and proving or disproving beliefs.
The one think that I personally like about the existential intelligence is that it can be blended with any of the eight Gardner categories. Options for projects and assignments are extremely open, if you play your cards right.
One thing that I must admit to anyone who is a current educator, is that one thing that annoyed me the most about language classes,when the teacher would ask a question, that maybe only half of the students could relate to it.
Symbolism: Choose a story for students to read. As students read, ask them to take note of what they feel are important events in the reading. Students need to define for themselves what these events mean to them personally or how they relate to the event or students can write down a list of themes that they find relevant and they will bring these back up during class discussion
Making connections: There are some students who are very devout in their spiritual faith or personal philosophy. Instead of having students write research papers, have them relate their spiritual faith or personal philosophy to a current event or a topic of your choosing. An alternative could include a viewing of a movie in the target language and they students will review the aspects that they feel most hits home with them.
Interest surveys: Getting to know your students is an excellent way to reach their philosophical side. Design the questions at your own risk. Know the kind of students that you will be working with and prepare your survey. You can design the survey to ask basic questions dealing with favorite music, favorite books to something much deeper like their personal beliefs. The informatin given from the surveys can give you, the educator, a clue as to how to help your students find value and meaning in the lessons that you are teaching.