The Entry Point Approach

The Entry Point Approach

The Entry Point Approach is an approach to learning-a structure for designing curricula rather than a particular curricular vehicle. The notion of entry points was introduced by Howard Gardner in The Unschooled Mind (1991).

My own belief is that any rich, nourishing topic – any concept worth teaching – can be approached in at least five different ways that, roughly speaking, map onto the multiple intelligences. We might think of the topic as a room with at least five doors or entry points into it. Students vary as to which entry point is most appropriate for them and which routes are most comfortable to follow once they have gained initial access to the room. Awareness of these entry points can help a teacher introduce new materials in ways in which they can be easily grasped by a range of students; then, as students explore other entry points, they have the chance to develop those multiple perspectives that are the best antidote to stereotypical thinking (p. 245)

The framework features five different points of entry into any topic: the Aesthetic, the Narrative, the Logical/Quantitative, the Foundational, and the Experiential. MUSE researchers initially suggested that by experiencing all five entry points, learners can discover: 1) if and when they prefer one entry point over another, and 2) that there are many different and valid ways to think and learn about any subject.

The Entry Points: Details and Examples

The Aesthetic Window - The entry point through which learners respond to formal and sensory qualities of a subject or work of art. For example: the color, line, expression, and composition of a painting; the intricate patterns on the surface of a beehive; or the alliteration and meter of a poem.

The Narrative Window - The entry point through which learners respond to the narrational elements of a subject or work of art. For example: the legend depicted in a painting, the sequence of events in a period of history, or the story behind the construction of a skyscraper.

The Logical/Quantitative Window - The entry point through which learners respond to aspects of a subject or work of art that invite deductive reasoning or numerical consideration. For example: the question of what decisions led to the creation of an art object, the problem of calculating the overall dimensions of an automobile, or the determination of which character in a mystery is the real villain.

The Foundational Window - The entry point through which learners respond to the broader concepts or philosophical issues raised by a subject or work of art. For example: whether and why calculus is thought to be important to society, whether metaphors depict or defy reality, or why a painting of soup cans is considered art.

The Experiential Window - The entry point through which learners respond to a subject or work of art by actually doing something with their hands or bodies. For example: manipulating the same materials used in a work of art, producing a play about the history of a neighborhood, or setting a poem to music.

Adapted for Wide World, Harvard Graduate School of Education professional development resources.
Excerpted and adapted from:

  • Davis, J. (1996). The MUSE Book. Cambridge, MA: President and Fellows of Harvard College/Harvard Project Zero
  • Gardner, H. (1991), The Unschooled Mind, New York: Basic Books.