If educators read but one book this year, I’ve got a recommendation: ‘Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons’ by Dr. Howard Gardner (Basic Books, 2007).
Believe it or not, it has been 25 years since Dr. Gardner penned ‘Frames of Mind’, and (tentatively) circumscribed a theory of Multiple Intelligences. It was a seminal moment that galvanized educators, psychologists and parents, worldwide. Like Galileo describing to colleagues the reality of a sun-centred cosmos (opposed to an earth-centred one), Gardner’s work illuminated a new cosmos of human intelligence the scope of which made traditional models of intelligence look trifling in comparison.
According to Gardner, since 1983, MI (as the field has come to be known) has spawned a vast domain of its own. Hundreds of books and articles have been written, hundreds of conferences and workshops have been convened and thousands of educators have validated the existence of at least 8 intelligences (those identified by Gardner include Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist, Spatial) and posited several others.
Gardner confidently predicts that in another 25 years additional intelligences will have been validated.
BUT, and this is a show-stopper, IMO, the findings and insights of MI have gone almost totally unnoticed by education bureaucrats who continue to stoke an anachronistic model of education that presumes the preeminence of Linguistic and Logical-Mathematical intelligence. Witness the juggernaut that presently exists behind standardized testing, ‘No Child Left Behind’, and conventional curricula. How long can these bureau-saurs hold out, continuing to ignore the world of MI and the potential that MI represents wrt ‘authentic’ learning? Well, Galileo was imprisoned for his radical ideas but they eventually came to be accepted as a scientific reality. Let’s work towards making the acceptance of MI much quicker.
Below are a few choice excerpts from ‘Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons”. Fill yer’ boots!
“It is of the utmost importance that we recognize and nurture all of the varied human intelligences and all of the combinations of intelligences. We are all so different largely because we have different combinations of intelligences. If we recognize this, I think we will have at least a better chance of dealing appropriately with the many problems that we face in the world.”
“Assessment programs that fail to take into account the vast differences among individuals, developmental levels, and varieties are increasingly anachronistic.”
“There is … an enormous desire to make education uniform, to treat all students in the same way, and to apply the same kinds of one-dimensional metrics to all. This trend is inappropriate on scientific grounds and distasteful on ethical grounds.”
“We need to broaden our notion of what can considered intelligence in terms of both individual and cultural components. Along with new attitudes about intelligence, new forms of schooling and assessment are needed to foster the competences of the majority.”