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Howard Gardner
Subscribe to Howard Gardner feed Howard Gardner
Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education / Harvard Graduate School of Education
Updated: 2 hours 54 min ago

Gardner on Education’s Future

September 8, 2015 - 10:03am

Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore has published a featured interview with Howard Gardner about the future of education.

Discussing the effects of digital media and new technology on worldwide education as well as his own work with the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy, Gardner offers some advice for how we can navigate these changes adapt our schools in the years ahead as educators seek to prepare students for the realities of the 21st century.

Click here to read the article in Italian. Below, the English text of the original interview has been reprinted.

1. What is the role of the school in the knowledge economy of the 21st century? Which type of skills should the education system develop?

A: One answer is that the traditional school will be less important. Education will begin shortly after birth and will be lifelong—it will occur on line, at the workplace, in community centers, and with connections being made around the globe, not just with your neighbors.

Another answer is presented in my book Five Minds for the Future. I argue that in the future, individuals who succeed will need to have a disciplined mind (knowing how to become an expert in one or more fields), a synthesizing mind (which can put together disparate information in a useful way), a creating mind (raising new questions and solving difficult challenges), a respectful mind (being able to deal well with individuals near and far), and an ethical mind (handling the challenges that arise in the workplace and in one’s role as citizen, where one needs to behave in a moral way).

2. There is a big difference between the kind of approach to learning of the digital natives (the app generation) and the approach proposed by schools. How could this be managed, and how should the education system change?

A: With respect to the disciplined mind, individuals may be able to acquire disciplines/expertise more efficiently. But they can only do this if they can concentrate and practice regularly, and the digital media can challenge attention and concentration by presenting too much attractive material at the same time.

With respect to the synthesizing mind, there will be apps which can help one keep track of information and organize it. But the synthesis that works for you may not work for me and vice versa. And so one needs to take responsibility for one’s own synthesis.

With respect to the creating mind, web 2.0 presents wonderful opportunities to collaborate. But there may be more ‘interim’ or ‘medium-size’ creativity and less Big C breakthroughs.

As for the respectful mind, individuals need to be able to interact smoothly and appropriately not only with individuals who are near by but with individuals who are remote. This is a new challenge.

And as for the ethical mind, this needs to be rethought completely in a digital age. On the one hand, it is no longer possible for each nation to have its own ethics, because we live in a global society. On the other hand, all sorts of assumptions about privacy, intellectual property, trustworthiness, and what it means to participate in a community are being disrupted by digital technology. Cyberspace is a ‘wild west.’ We need to come up with new ways to ensure ethical and moral behavior.

How does this relate to the educational system? Unless the educational system takes into account the ways in which to nurture the five minds in a digital era, it will become increasingly anachronistic—no longer relevant. Individuals will develop their own approaches to life—which might be quite dysfunctional—or new institutions may be developed by corporate interests or by the wider society.

3. How could digital technology contribute to changes in the education system?

A: Clearly, many skills can be developed more efficiently and more effectively by digital technology—for example, apps can help one to learn the three Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and many scientific and mathematical and computational skills can be presented via MOOCs (massive open online courses).

BUT I believe that person to person interaction, unmediated by technology, is as important as ever.

Young children need to be able to see peers and teachers face-to-face, to notice their reactions, and to develop trust. And older learners benefit from direct contact with mentors, who can guide them in the more complex parts of work and especially can provide ethical and moral guidelines.

To put this differently, an important part of life are human values—like honesty, trust, and decency—and these cannot and should not be presented online. There is a real danger that human beings will try to emulate computers and digital systems, and these are fundamentally different kinds of entities.

Also, I don’t believe that one can effectively teach humanistic, artistic, and social scientific disciplines except in the presence of other persons with whom one can discuss, debate, and collaborate face-to-face.

All technology is amoral. One can use a pencil to write beautiful poetry or to poke out someone’s eyes. By the same token, you can use apps or MOOCS to develop skills which can be used to harm or to heal. The difference comes from contacts between human beings in a human space who can look at one another eye-to-eye and see directly the consequences of behavior and misbehavior.

4. There is a big debate over whether—and how—digital technology could be useful to the education of the new “app generation,” and many people emphasize the risk connected to digital and the web. What is your opinion on the issue?

A: From our book The App Generation, I would add this point in addition to what I have already said: apps are procedures for getting tasks done efficiently. We all benefit from the existence of apps. But we should never decide to do something just because an app happens to exist, and we should never decide NOT to do something just because an app does not exist.

My collaborator Katie Davis and I make an important distinction. Human beings should avoid becoming app-dependent: always relying on apps to decide what to do and how to do it. We should become app-enabled: using apps to help us accomplish things that we want to do anyway, but using the extra time and facility to free us to accomplish things that are important to us, whether or not there is an app available.  

And we should all become app-transcendent as well, throwing away devices when they are divisive (causing harm) or when they keep us from being original. Steve Jobs had much to do with the ascendancy of apps, but he would never decide on something just because there is an app. He was able to TRANSCEND apps, and so should we.

5. How are you involved in the projects of the city of Reggio Emilia, and what do you think is the main feature of the Reggio Emilia experience relevant to school and education?

A: Like many other people, including my beloved teacher Jerome Bruner, I have learned a great deal from my visits to Reggio and from my research there, which now encompasses over thirty years! Observing the schools and the pace of life in Reggio has taught me much about the potentials of young children and also about the role of adults and the surrounding community in helping to develop thoughtful and engaged citizens. In Reggio, there are not artificial boundaries between child and adult, teacher and learner, public officials and ordinary citizens—people work together, unselfishly, for the health of the broader community.

Of course, there are tremendous challenges. And one has to be honest and say that with huge waves of immigrants coming to northern Italy, from dozens of different cultures, the tasks facing the schools and the broader community are greater than was the case thirty years ago. But Reggio does not run away from these challenges. It welcomes them and hopes to serve as a model for Italy and, indeed, much of the developed world.

On the subject of technology, Reggio has never spurned new inventions, digital or otherwise. Indeed, it has embraced the modern. (I remember the excitement thirty years ago when the first fax machines were introduced into the Diana School, and the children there exchanged messages with their counterparts at the Model Early Learning Center in Washington, D.C.!). But the city recognizes as well the importance of the human dimension.

The world over, Reggio is known from two elements: its delicious food (most notably cheese) and its excellent early childhood education. I hope that the world continues to benefit from both forms of nourishment.

6. There is a school reform movement underway in Italy. What suggestions would you give to the Italian or to any government wanting to modernize the education system and bring it in line with these new realities?

A: My major advice is perhaps an unorthodox one. Do NOT copy what is happening in the United States and the United Kingdom. An excessive focus on testing and evaluation of teachers and students can be damaging and counterproductive; so can an excessive dependence on technology. There is much to be learned from countries and systems that operate very differently, as, for example, from the Finnish educational system, as described by Pasi Sahlberg in his important book Finnish Lessons

Build on what is already strong in Italy—examples like the Montessori system and the approaches developed in Reggio by Loris Malaguzzi, Carlina Rinaldi and their colleagues. Take pride in Italy’s magnificent history, dating back to classical times and stretching forward to the Renaissance and to the remarkable artistic and technological advances in the post World War II period. Honor the rich diversity of your own village and city cultures. Make use of technology, but don’t let the technocrats dictate what should be taught and how it should be taught. Respect the Italy of Dante, Leonardo, Galileo, and Verdi, the beauties of Tuscany and Rome, and the civility of the hill towns that for a thousand years have been democratic. And don’t be seduced by Hollywood, Silicon Valley, or Wall Street!

Categories: Blog

Meaningful Professional Development for Teachers

August 27, 2015 - 11:32am

An op-ed about improving professional development for educators by Howard Gardner, Clayton Lewis, and Jim Reese has appeared in The Washington Post‘s “Answer Sheet” column.

Citing a TNTP study that found most teacher professional development is ineffective, the authors point to the Project Zero Classroom institute, which has now held for two decades at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, as an example of how enriching PD can be for educators. Gardner, Lewis, and Reese believe that the time has come to to move away from using curricula and testing as the only “fixes” in our schools and to bring good teachers back into the equation. Professional development should be an investment that provides new pedagogical techniques that can be used in practice.

Click here to read the full article via The Washington Post.

Categories: Blog

Italian Magazine Interviews Howard Gardner

August 17, 2015 - 9:22am

The Italian magazine Teatri delle diversità has published an interview with Howard Gardner in its May 2015 issue!

Answering questions about multiple intelligences theory, Project Zero, his life-long and wide-ranging research, the current state of education, the content of several of his books, and more, this interview with Gardner touches on a variety of subjects and is a must-read for Italian speakers interested in Gardner’s work. 

Click here to access a PDF of the article. The piece is also available online via the magazine’s website.

The English text of the interview has been reprinted below.

1. The international scientific community has recognized the importance of your theory of multiple intelligences and the idea that intelligence is not a single factor quantifiable by an I.Q. test. In the 30 years since your work on The Mind’s New Science, do you believe educators have sufficiently embraced the concept of the centrality of the mind and the role that context and culture play in the formation of an individual?

A: In the United States alone, there are close to five million K-12 educators, and there are certainly ten times as many in the rest of the world. I think it is amazing that many of these educators have heard of MI theory, in one form or another, though most would not have read my works or know my name. I feel that I’ve been successful in challenging the notion of a single intelligence that is adequately assessed by an IQ test or its equivalent.

But once one gets to more specific questions, like an understanding of the role of context and culture, I don’t feel that I can give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. So much depends on how the questions are phrased and the answers are interpreted.

Let me give an example. In the United States, if you ask teachers, “Are there children whom we should call ‘gifted?’”, many if not most will say ‘No.’ That’s the politically correct answer. But if you then ask the teacher to rank order students in terms of how well they paint or write or dance, they’ll have little difficulty in doing so. 

By the way that I phrase the question, I can make teachers (or for that matter parents) seem either sensitive or insensitive to culture or context. But I will say this: Individuals who have taught for several years, and who are reflective about their practice, are quite likely to be sensitive to culture and context.

2. Considering your experience, how—and to what degree—can an educational scholar or practitioner positively influence the promotion of innovative and research based learning theories within the educational system?

A: Recently, an American scholar, Jack Schneider, has published a book called From the Ivory to the Schoolhouse. In that book, he analyzes pairs of ideas—which superficially seem quite similar, but which differ widely in the degree to which they have been picked up by educators. He compared my well known theory of intelligence, with the theory of intelligence developed by my colleague Robert Sternberg, and proposes reasons why my ideas have caught on and influenced both educational theory and practice, and why Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence has not had discernible impact.

Schneider emphasizes that the theories and research that have impacted practice are simple to state and also vivid to conceptualize; have immediate educational implications; do not cost a great deal to implement; and have found ‘translators’ and ‘advocates,’ who help teachers to understand and make use of the theory.

Of course, sometimes theories like mine are misunderstood and misapplied. Often the misuses are insignificant, but sometimes the misuses are damaging and need to be stopped. On a few occasions, I have had to be the ‘traffic cop’—explicitly denouncing practices that I feel are destructive or deceptive. I now have a website called multipleintelligencesoasis.org, where I identify good practices and malpractices.

3. You have visited and observed early education centers around the world and were one of the first to recognize the significant contribution of Loris Malaguzzi and his Reggio Emilia team. Did your expereince in Italy help further your research on the learning potential of the young mind as you observed children in this classroom setting?

A: Of all my educational experiences over a fifty year period, my encounters with the schools in Reggio have had the greatest impact. That’s because the efforts of Loris Malaguzzi and his numerous colleagues have expanded our understanding of the potentials of young children to make use of ‘the one hundred languages of childhood’; and they have amplified our knowledge of how best to work with children from six months until they begin to school. The Reggio team has built on the fundamental understandings of Piaget and Montessori. They have fashioned educational interventions that are appropriate for our time and for cultures around the world.

At Harvard Project Zero, a research group of which I was a founding member in 1967, we have carried on research inspired by our collaborations with the Reggio Schools. In the book Making Learning Visible we described the importance of collaborative learning and documentation; and in the book Visible Learning we expand the Reggio approach for use with children at different ages. (Principal researchers: Mara Krechevsky, Ben Mardell, Melissa Rivard, Daniel Wilson)

4. You are the senior director of Project Zero, founded in 1967 by the philosopher and language scholar Nelson Goodman at Harvard University. This program has examined the learning process, from early childhood to adulthood, within institutions. Can you briefly summarize the latest findings of this research and the way it examines ideas around intelligence, creativity, understanding and ethics?

A: The easiest answer and most honest answer to this question is ‘No.’ Currently we have ten principal investigators at Project Zero, and each of them has instituted a separate and important line of investigation. These are best surveyed at our website pz.harvard.edu. 

But to respond to the spirit of your question, I’ll briefly mention three lines of work of which I have direct knowledge. Others are described below in response to other questions. 

A. Collaboration with Paul Salopek, a prize winning journalist who is taking a walk around the globe, simulating what homo sapiens did tens of thousands of years ago. Colleagues are developing materials that schoolchildren all over the world can employ to follow Salopek’s remarkable trek and to interact with peers who are trying to encompass their own neighborhood. (Principal researcher: Liz Duraisingh)

B. The ethics of the new digital media. Many assumptions about ethical behavior, having to do with truthfulness, privacy, intellectual property, and participation in a community, have been disrupted by the internet, the web, social media, search engines and the like. How do we re-negotiate moral and ethical behavior on this rapidly changing landscape? We’ve been studying both young people and adults as they attempt to choreograph and orchestrate their behaviors in ways that take advantage of the power of the media, but not at the expense of other persons. (Principal researcher: Carrie James)

C. Liberal arts and sciences in the 21st century. Four year residential education in the liberal arts and sciences is a genuine American invention. It is admired and imitated all over the world. But it is also in jeopardy in the United States due both to external factors (high costs, widespread demands for vocational education) and internal fractures (cheating, excessive drinking of alcohol, sexual misconduct, high-profile athletics). With researcher Wendy Fischman, I am carrying out a national study of how different ‘stakeholders’ think about this admired but increasingly fragile form of education. From our research on 5-10 campuses, we will make specific recommendations about how best to preserve and strengthen education in the liberal arts for our time.

5. In the volume Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the virtues in the 21th century, you claim that researching truth, beauty, and and goodness are profound human needs and, therefore, a fundamental basis for individual learning and growth. Could you briefly outline how public schools could incorporate this awareness into educational systems?

A: I think that every educator, indeed every human being, is concerned with what is true and what is not; what experiences to cherish and which ones to avoid; and how best to relate to other human beings. We differ in how conscious we are of these questions; how reflective we are about our own stances; whether we are aware of how these human virtues are threatened by critiques (philosophical, cultural) and by technologies (chiefly the digital media). A good educator should help us all to navigate our way in this tangled web of virtues.

In work that I’m currently undertaking, I speak about the naive or ‘unschooled’ view of the three virtues; how we should be schooled with respect to the virtues in formal schooling; and how we should continue to wrestle with what is true, beautiful, and good (and what is not) once we have left formal schooling. This is by no means an easy task. And yet, a continuing conversation with other persons, with cultural products, and with oneself, is a large part of what it means to be a human being, in our time and perhaps in all time.

6. The title of your current course at Harvard, which is taught to a very motivated and qualified group of international students, is called Good Work in Education: When Excellence, Engagement, and Ethics Meet. It picks up on the research of the Good Work Project founded by you in 1995 together with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and William Damon, later folded into the broader Good Project. Today, what does it mean, at all levels and all roles, to do “good work” in the field of education? Additionally, given your more than 20 years of  research and collaboration, can you articulate a sort of  “Code of Responsibility” for those working in the field of education in various contexts (teaching, administration, academia)?

A: Our general scheme of good work entails three characteristics, which, in English, all begin with the letter E. A good educator is technically EXCELLENT—he or she knows his subject matter, good pedagogy, and his or her students; a good educator is ENGAGED—he or she finds it meaningful to teach, and looks forward to the classroom encounters; a good educator is ETHICAL—he or she tries to figure out what is the proper course of action to follow in difficult situations; reflects on the choices made; and, in the future, tries to adjust his language and actions accordingly.

Note that the three Es are separate; one can be technically excellent but not engaged; one can be ethical but not excellent;, etc. It is a constant challenge to maintain all three Es. We have created a Good Work Toolkit to help educators attain and retain the capacity to carry out good work under challenging circumstances (see thegoodproject.org).

We devoted a whole book to the question of what does it mean to be “responsible at work” (see Responsibility at Work). A good educator has a variety of responsibilities: to her students; to the subject matter or discipline; to the institution in which she teaches; to parents and colleagues; and to the broader society in which she lives. Of course, even to monitor these responsibilities can be overwhelming; and no one can possibly be equally responsible to all constituents at all times.  That said, if one develops good habits and routines, it is possible to be a responsible educator most of the time; and to marshal the special energies and reflection for those times, when the correct course of action is not clear, or when one is weighing one wrong against another wrong.

7. We live in a society dominated by the idea of science and technology and increasing globalization. In your text Five Minds for the Future, you outline five mind capabilities: discipline, synthesis, creativity, respect and ethics. How is it possible to “educate for the future,” integrating these principles?

A: In writing about “five minds,” I was certainly keeping in mind the reality of globalization. Only individuals who have cultivated these kinds of minds are likely to thrive in a complex, interconnected and rapidly changing global world.

In directing the book toward educators, and also toward leaders in corporate and political institutions, I was trying to call attention to capacities that we take for granted (e.g. respect) as well as ones that we may not think much about (synthesizing, ethical choices). As with the Three Es of Good Work, it’s difficult to address all five minds; and yet the best educators and the best leaders never lose track of this quintet. And all of us, as workers and citizens, should attempt to keep these five minds in mind.

How does one synthesize or integrate these minds? In the book, I come to the conclusion that such synthesis is an individual project: no one can synthesize your five minds for you. Also there is inevitable tension across the minds:  respect can be in contention with ethics; discipline can pull in a different direction from creativity. And so, while synthesizing is usually thought of with respect to knowledge, this form of synthesis is an individual one, turned inward, and constantly being re-calibrated in light of our goals, values, and rapidly changing  national and international conditions.

8. In your recent book The App Generation, co-written with Katie Davis, you examine ideas of identity, intimacy and imagination in the adolescent population. To what degree do you feel today’s adolescent is dependent on digital life? What are the potentials and limits of digital technology as it regards adolescent development?

A: In every part of the world with which I am familiar, young people are completely immersed in the digital world—so much so, that it is inconceivable to them that they can, for long, be separated from their devices. Indeed, many of us who are not young, who are ‘digital immigrants’ rather than ‘digital natives,’ are also wedded to, if not dependent on, our digital devices.

The principal distinction in the book, written in collaboration with my wonderful former student Katie Davis, is between app-dependence and app-enablement. A person who is app-dependent is always searching for the best app; and as soon as its routine has been executed, the person searches for the next app. A person who is app-enabled also uses apps frequently. But he or she is never limited by the current array of apps; apps will free the person to do what he or she wants to do, or needs to do, irrespective of the next application of the app. An app-enabled person can also put devices away, without feeling bereft.

And best of all, persons can sometimes be app-transcendent: making dramatic progress or discoveries, without any dependence on any app. In this context, I like to mention Steve Jobs. While he had as much to do as anyone with the invention and development of apps, he NEVER was limited by the current technology—indeed, he typically transcended it and relied on his own considerable wits.

9. To celebrate your 70th birthday in 2013, Mindy Kornhaber and Ellen Winner invited 117 scholars and students to write something in your honor and you replied to each, resulting in the volume Mind, Work, and Life: A Festschrift on the Occasion of Howard Gardner’s 70th Birthday. Reflecting on your own career, what recommendations and warnings do you have for young researchers just entering the field?

A: The Festschrift is among the highlights of my life—what a privilege to have such wonderful colleagues and friends, to eavesdrop on what they are thinking about my work and me, and to have the opportunity to respond to them. And, for extra credit, to be able to post the entire 1500 page document on my website.

I have been an incredibly fortunate person in every respect. From an early age, I wanted to search and to do research, and I’ve had the privilege of doing so. And so my primary piece of advice is this: “Go for it, but with your eyes wide open.”

To unpack this slogan: If you enjoy reading, writing, learning, and sharing what you have learned, don’t hesitate to look for a life where you can continue to do those things. It could be as a scientist, an educator, an editor, a journalist, the founder of an organization. You only live once, and it is a tragedy if you deny yourself these options without trying to pursue them.

But don’t assume that the way that one searches and researches is the same from one era to another—it isn’t. In the 19th century, most research was done by amateurs: either individuals who were rich or individuals who had a day job. In the 20th century, most researchers worked at universities or think tanks and received money from the government or from foundations to pursue their work. In our time, the sources of support and the locations for research may be quite different.

Also, distinguish between the work and the job title. When I was leaving school in the early 1970s, many people wanted to be journalists, carrying out investigative reporting for print newspapers. Print newspapers may not exist in twenty years. But good thinking and good writing about issues that need to be reported and investigated will always be needed; but where this happens, what it is called, and who pays for it may be quite different than could have been envisioned by the great journalists of the past.

10. This interview cannot end without a question about that regards our periodical, Teatri delle diversità (Theatre of diversities). From your unique vantage point, how has the concept or definition of “diversity” changed over the last 50 years? What types of diversity has the research traditionally focused on and what are the new horizions for educational research today? What role could theatre play in regard?

A: In the United States these days, ‘diversity’ is a big word and a buzzword. Sometimes, it refers primarily to racial diversity (primarily, black and white); often it refers to any kind of ethical or cultural diversity; but it can also refer to political diversity (left/right) or to sexual diversity (gay/straight).

There is no question that diversity is much more on the radar screen than it was when I went to school over fifty years ago. When I went to Harvard College, nearly everyone looked alike (white male); there were few individuals who were openly gay; and most of us had middle-of-the-road politics. Today, our campus could not be different in every respect.

Being aware of diversity is important, and we as a society (both national and global) have made important progressive strides in the last half century. The civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the gay rights movement have been amazingly successful in many places, though there is still much more that needs to be done.

At the risk of sounding a bit off-key, I think that we need to pay as much attention to ways in which, despite these differences, we share our humanity. This is not only because our genes are virtually identical; but because, as a planet, we are at risk of destruction (for example, gradually by the warming of the planet; or rapidly, by nuclear war or a pathogen that gets out of control). And these threats require us to work together, and not just to announce our diversity.

The wonderful thing about the theater is that it can emphasize BOTH our diversity AND our common humanity. In many ways, the world of Shakespeare (or Aeschylus or Racine) is totally different from our world; and yet any human being can look through the differences in dress and mores and discover our common problems, passions, and potentials.

Categories: Blog

Gardner Speaks with “Bridging the Gaps”

August 3, 2015 - 7:30am

The Irish podcast program “Bridging the Gaps” has released its interview with Howard Gardner!

Speaking about the development of multiple intelligences theory, the concepts behind the book Five Minds for the Future, and his most recently published text The App Generation, Gardner gives an overview of some of the key research that has compelled him over the past three decades.

Click here to listen to the podcast via the “Bridging the Gaps” website.

Categories: Blog

Tapping into Strengths Through MI

July 21, 2015 - 9:13am

The Parent Toolkit blog, a website devoted to helping parents navigate the educations of their children from pre-Kindergarten through high school, has released a post by Thomas Hoerr, Head of the New City School, about how to use Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences to tap into potential and boost performance.

Hoerr, who has been working with MI for decades, offers a few tips for how parents can improve their children’s problem-solving and critical thinking abilities through the eight component intelligences:

  • Learn about the different intelligences and what they mean
  • Know your own intelligence strengths
  • Use hands-on, active learning techniques to allow your child to nurture their own strengths
  • Expose your child to the full range of intelligences
  • Encourage diversity through MI

By providing the tools to learn in more than one way, parents can equip children with the building blocks for future success.

Click here to read the article in its entirety and discover more about using MI to unlock potential.

Categories: Blog

Disinterestedness in the Digital Era

July 9, 2015 - 11:46am

Howard Gardner’s chapter “Reclaiming Disinterestedness for the Digital Era,” about the modern importance of maintaining disinterested and impartial behavior in the professions, has been included in the recently published book From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Era, edited by Danielle Allen and Jennifer Light.

A full description of this newly-released text is below:

How have online protests—like the recent outrage over the Komen Foundation’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood—changed the nature of political action? How do Facebook and other popular social media platforms shape the conversation around current political issues? The ways in which we gather information about current events and communicate it with others have been transformed by the rapid rise of digital media. The political is no longer confined to the institutional and electoral arenas, and that has profound implications for how we understand citizenship and political participation.

With From Voice to Influence, Danielle Allen and Jennifer S. Light have brought together a stellar group of political and social theorists, social scientists, and media analysts to explore this transformation. Threading through the contributions is the notion of egalitarian participatory democracy, and among the topics discussed are immigration rights activism, the participatory potential of hip hop culture, and the porous boundary between public and private space on social media. The opportunities presented for political efficacy through digital media to people who otherwise might not be easily heard also raise a host of questions about how to define “good participation”: does the ease with which one can now participate in online petitions or conversations about current events seduce some away from serious civic activities into “slacktivism”?

Drawing on a diverse body of theory, from Hannah Arendt to Anthony Appiah, From Voice to Influence offers a range of distinctive visions for a political ethics to guide citizens in a digitally connected world.

In order to find out more, and to order, please click here.

Categories: Blog

Is the “app mentality” killing creativity?

June 30, 2015 - 12:38pm

Katie Davis and Howard Gardner’s 2013 book The App Generation has been featured in an article from T.H.E. Journal (Technological Horizons in Education).

In the detailed piece, Davis and Gardner outline the most salient points gleaned from the research that led to the book, including the tendency of today’s youth to see their lives as a series of apps, termed “app mentality,” which creates an expectation for immediate answers to life’s questions and a one-track life trajectory. The authors also explain the study that demonstrated a decrease in language creativity but increase in visual creativity in the work of young people over the past two decades.

Davis and Gardner conclude by recommending that we all need time away from our devices in order to reflect. During such “down time,” the brain enters a kind of “default mode” and make larger connections between concepts and events, which is especially key to the development of self-awareness and empathy in children.

Click here to read the article in full via T.H.E. Journal.

Categories: Blog

Changing the Mindset of Education

June 23, 2015 - 9:44am

An article in the Huffington Post‘s Education section has referenced Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences in a call for greater empowerment of students’ abilities.

Columnists Arina Bokas and Rod Rock draw on Carol Dweck’s research to delineate two mindsets about success in education: 1) a fixed mindset where people believe that their achievements are due to inherent intelligence; and 2) a growth mindset in which intelligence can be cultivated and enhanced due to hard work. According to the authors, too often, the fixed mindset, reinforced by a belief in biological origins of intellectual capacity, wins out in education. By assuming that intelligence is not malleable and cannot be expanded, the minds of children cannot grow.

By embracing the alternative growth mindset, which is supported by neuroscientific evidence, learning can be better fostered. Gardner’s MI theory holds that students have different strengths in many separate areas. The multiple intelligences can be employed to step away from “one-size-fits-all” education and move towards personalization and individuation.

To read the article in full, please click here.

Categories: Blog

Gardner Speaks at Arts Summit

June 10, 2015 - 8:40am

On May 16, 2015, Howard Gardner delivered an address on the topic of arts education at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as a part of the Aspen Institute’s Arts Summit “The Road Forward.” Summarizing the history of education in the arts over the past decades, Gardner surveys the current state of the field and concludes that the arts continue to be crucial and may even provide the key to bridging the humanities and sciences. 

Watch the video of the talk, available via YouTube. The text of the remarks has also been reproduced below.

Remarks by Howard Gardner
Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Senior Director, Harvard Project Zero

“Arts Education: Then, Now, In the Future”

As you can see for yourself, I have been around for a long time, and I’ve been working in arts education for decades. As a youngster, I sat at home and watched a conductor named Leonard (Lenny) Bernstein introduce me, and millions of other youngsters, to orchestral classical music. That was arts education, circa 1955.

Then as a graduate student, 48 years ago, I was a founding member of Harvard Project Zero, a group that has long had a focus on education in the arts. Shortly thereafter, I was a witness in front of a panel assembled by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund that issued a report called “Coming to our Senses.” The report focused sharply on what can and should be done in the schools. That was arts education, circa 1975.

It’s forty years later. What would happen if the proverbial visitor from another planet—who had not been here for 40 years—were to come to the United States to look at education in the arts? Let’s say that he was a journalist, from the planet Mars… or, if you prefer, she was a journalist from Venus. Alas, no longer can that journalist descend from a planet named Pluto! The journalist would come equipped with the classic journalistic questions, and here are the answers I’d give… in approximately 9 minutes.

WHY  education in the Arts? For those of you gathered at the Kennedy Center in 2015, that question would be easy to answer. You know, as audience members, as creators, and as facilitators, the qualitative transformational differences that a life in the arts can make; how art enriches your experiences and the experiences of those with whom you come in contact; how it captures the greatest and most powerful meanings of human existence. That has not changed. The Romans knew: Vita breva, ars longa.

As for the journalist, I’d say that there may be ancillary benefits of the arts as well—perhaps more motivation to work hard in school, perhaps economic benefits for your community. But I’d add this: no individuals that I know in the arts engage in artistic practice primarily to raise their IQ or primarily to increase the tax base of their community.

WHO? They used to primarily be an elite pursuit—but now, the arts are really and readily accessible to everyone (through work by Damian Woetzel, Yo-Yo Ma, Jacques D’Amboise, and many others, we have witnessed the differences that arts can make for young persons). The Rockefeller Brothers Fund knew that. Today, older persons are a large and growing audience. They are much more likely to visit a museum or attend a performance in their later years if they were involved in the arts when they were young, through creating works of art or through courses in school or college—an important reason that our artistic endeavors should cover the demographic waterfront and entail lifelong learning.  

WHERE? Arts education used to be primarily in schools. Alas, despite the valiant efforts of those gathered here, the role of arts in schools in America has steadily diminished since the Bernstein 1950s, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund 1970s. The Common Core dominates the education radar screen, and STEM is ubiquitous, not, alas, STEAM.

On the positive side, the arts used to be housed primarily in certain institutions and at certain hours. Now you can find the arts everywhere: in community centers, in public places, in the traditional media, on the web, and in social media. We have access to the greatest works of all time in multiple media, at the touch of a tablet, and we can edit, mix, match, and mash 24/7.

Which leaves: HOW?

As a scholar in psychology and education, answering this question is my day job. Howard Gardner circa 1975 would have talked about the arts as engaging and developing the full range of human intelligences–not just language and logic, but musical, bodily, spatial, and personal/emotional intelligences. As Nelson Goodman, founder of Harvard Project Zero liked to quip, “We don’t want education to be half-brained.”

Not only do we want to use the full range of capacities, but we want to be able to connect the intelligences in new and unexpected ways, tangibly and virtually, in school and in the park, on the ground and in cyberspace. No need for the arts to hug traditional boundaries.

The Howard Gardner of 2015 is engaged in a national study of education in the liberal arts and sciences. For Thomas Jefferson and for those, like David Rubenstein, imbued with his spirit, this is a form of residential education, where the mind, body, and spirit can wander freely, for up to four years—opening up possibilities and transformations at the most flexible, freest period of life. Oh, to be 18 again!

Yet, as you all know, traditional education in liberal arts and sciences is in jeopardy, because of its expense, hypervocationalism, and various challenges on campuses themselves. 

When our journalist was here forty years ago, the academy epitomized C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures. Students either focused on the humanities (typically English or History) or on the sciences. Now the seesaw has tilted sharply toward the sciences, and because of various factors, the humanities are seen as feeble and on the defense.

But there is a silver lining, perhaps even a golden one. I am convinced that today the arts can provide a unique and powerful bridge between the humanities and the sciences. And that is because the tools available to makers—digital and tangible—can emanate from anywhere and can be applied anywhere. These tools and media do not respect disciplinary boundaries. They are invariably interdisciplinary. Steve Jobs moved seamlessly across art, design, technology. So do Damian Woetzel and Yo-Yo Ma and many contemporary citizen-artists as they work with students and teachers in turnaround schools, parks, centers, labs, even apps. These heroic educators don’t necessarily use the word “art”—they can invoke “design”, “making”, “creating”; but in essence, they are simply human beings, using all of their faculties, to capture what we know, feel, value in powerful, unforgettable form. That is the heartland of the Arts. Perhaps, just perhaps, a renewed focus on the arts in our colleges and universities can powerfully bridge the humanities and the sciences and help to reinvigorate the liberal arts education that so many of us cherish. An education that has been distinctly American, dating back to our founding fathers and still admired the world over. And note well: if colleges and universities value the arts, so will our K-12 system.

For the interplanetary journalist, I even have a headline, a tweet: Arts Education: From Lenny, The Music Genius; To Leonardo, The Universal Genius.

And so, my closing remark to the interplanetary visitor: “You can take back answers. Compared to decades ago, the arts in the US are everywhere, they are for everyone, they make use of the range of human faculties, and they offer a powerful way to synthesize different perspectives on human existence and possibilities. They can, they should, be central to education, spanning humanistic and scientific studies. We’d like to export our knowledge and media to anyone on your planet who is interested in limitless possibilities, improving, in the process, our balance of trade. And if you have products and processes that would fascinate and energize us, sign me up for a visit to your celestial sphere.”

Thank you.

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Hall Fellow Lecture at Concord Academy

June 2, 2015 - 1:01pm

On April 27-28, 2015, Howard Gardner visited Concord Academy in Concord, MA, to deliver the annual Hall Fellow lectures to the school community.

Speaking to parents and alums on the evening of April 27 and to students and teachers on the morning of April 28, Gardner delivered a talk on “Beyond Wit and Grit” about the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century and how his own work, from MI to the Good Project, has complexified the meaning of those terms.

Gardner concludes that one needs “multiple wits” and “good grit” to contribute to society and to thrive.

Click here to watch a video of Gardner’s evening lecture at Concord Academy.

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Finland, the Common Core, and MI

May 26, 2015 - 12:29pm

The Huffington Post’s World Post reports that Finland has adopted new standards for its National Core Curriculum similar to those of the Common Core in the United States.

Under the new regulations, Finnish educators would no longer teach subjects like math, science, or history to students; instead, learning will be topical, meaning that lessons will be interdisciplinary and practical in nature. For example, a class on the European Union would combine elements of language, economics, history, and geography. As Finnish students consistently rank at the top of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, the new measure has attracted a lot of attention across the world. 

In the US, the same interdisciplinary and real-world criteria have been a part of the Common Core movement to enhance critical thinking and problem solving skills. 

The World Post article points out that the reforms align well with Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences (MI) theory. By catering to different modes of instruction and incorporating various ways of approaching the same issues in the classroom, the standards implicitly acknowledge MI’s relevance to the educational experience.

Click here to read the full article.

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The Good Teacher Toolkit

May 19, 2015 - 10:36am

Project Zero’s The Good Project, co-founded by Howard Gardner, has spent two decades investigating topics like Good Work, ethics, collaboration, and youth engagement with digital media.

In April 2015, the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Usable Knowledge portal, which provides practical tips, tools, and information for educators, featured the Good Project’s resources most helpful to teachers in the classroom. 

Some of the materials and frameworks available to teachers include:

  • The Good Work Toolkit, a resource available as a free PDF that includes dilemmas and activities that can help students and education professionals alike understand “good work” and ethical nuances
  • A case study about how one school community implemented a Good Work program
  • Books, other toolkits, papers, a newsletter and more!

Click here to read the full Usable Knowledge article today.

Additionally, please visit the Good Project website for the latest news and information about its various initiatives and and free resources.

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Press from Taiwan, Russia, and Brazil

May 12, 2015 - 12:10pm

We are excited to announce that Howard Gardner has been featured in a few foreign-language articles from media outlets abroad, including publications in Taiwan and Brazil and a website in Russia.

First, Brazilian magazine Pátio Ensino Fundamental, an education-focused periodical, included in its November 2014-January 2015 edition a piece on The App Generation by Gardner and co-author Katie Davis. The full volume is available here, with the article about Gardner and Davis’s book in Portuguese beginning on page 6. 

Second, CommonWealth Parenting, a parenting magazine from Taiwan, spotlighted Gardner’s work and its implications for parents in its April 2015 issue with a cover story. The Chinese-language PDF of the article can be read by clicking here.

Finally, Fedor Marchenko, a Fulbright scholar from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, interviewed Gardner in February 2015 about his life’s work and findings from his recent research projects. The interview was published on the school’s website in Russian and is available by clicking here

These releases will surely expose greater numbers of non-English speakers to Gardner’s ideas.

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Gardner’s Morning Address at Memorial Chapel

May 6, 2015 - 8:18am

On Friday, April 10, 2015, Howard Gardner spoke at Harvard’s Memorial Church as a part of the daily Morning Prayers session. Speakers are invited to Morning Prayers to discuss a topic of their choice, particularly one that has meaningful implications for the lives of listeners. Gardner’s talk focused on truth, beauty, and goodness, and the responsibility that Harvard University has to foster these virtues across the campus community in the 21st century.

Click here to listen to an audio recording of Gardner’s address (find April 10, 2015, in the playlist; the address begins at the 7:44 mark). 

Gardner’s remarks have been reprinted in full below:

Memorial Church: Morning Address
April 10, 2015
Howard Gardner

The well-known verse from John Keats:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

When I was a student at Harvard College in the early 1960s, Memorial Church was a frequent visiting spot. This was not because I was religious—I am a ‘secular Jew’—but rather because I belonged to the Crimson Key, the group authorized to give tours. Most visitors wanted to go into “Mem Church,” and I regaled them with stories, some no doubt apocryphal.

Being at Harvard was important to me. I particularly valued the motto “Veritas.” I saw us—the students—as searching for truth or truths, in class, in the library, in research, in our personal relations. My strong commitment to Veritas helps to explain why I get so upset when anyone in the community passes on the work of others as his or her own, or, at least as bad, when a member of the community massages or fudges data. These acts violate the soul of the academy.

This is my 55th year at Harvard. I love what Harvard stands for… at its best. But with due respect to Veritas, I have come to embrace the motto of my high school—Verum, Pulchrum, Bonum: Truth, Beauty, Goodness.

Education everywhere should encompass the appreciation and cultivation of truth, beauty, and goodness. We should pursue the discovery of the truths of the scholarly disciplines—of physics, philosophy, psychology, poetic analysis—and seek to determine the extent to which these several Keats-like truths converge.

Equally important should be the creation and the appreciation of beauty. We associate beauty with the arts—music, dance, literature, the works on display at the new Harvard Art Museums; or with nature—the Arnold Arboretum, the scenery around Dumbarton Oaks or I Tatti. But on my definition, any experience can be beautiful, be it a conversation about the day’s news, a well-crafted meal in Annenberg Hall, or an encounter with classmates of different backgrounds. If the experience is interesting, memorable in form, and worth repeating, I consider it beautiful.

Which leaves goodness, at least as essential. I define as good the positive relations that can obtain among human beings, be they neighbors or individuals scattered across the globe. On the whole, it was a desirable outcome that higher education became secular in the 20th century. Prioritization of one religion or even of religion in general tends to be exclusionary. I can’t help mentioning that Nathan Pusey, president of Harvard during my student days, would have preferred if Jewish persons did not get married in this, a Protestant church.

And yet, the disappearance from campus of religion or religions is not without cost. It has made it more difficult to speak of value, and of any kind of shared values. Indeed, those campuses that have maintained a religious foundation have an advantage when it comes to the articulation and perhaps even the realization of shared values.

Let me be clear: I am not calling for a reinstitution of Puritanism, Protestantism, or even Abrahamic religions at Harvard. That time has passed. I mean something else.

The college of the 21st century should be the apotheosis of Verum, Pulchrum, and Bonum. We should honor these virtues and, more important, strive to realize them every day. Those of us who remain at the University—in my case, for almost 55 years—have a special obligation—indeed, a special privilege—of ensuring that these virtues are at the forefront of our daily words and deeds.

Memorial Church has come to exemplify the virtues. At the start of the Capital Campaign, many of us gathered in the Church to hear leading professors talk about their work—the truths that they pursue.

On many an occasion, be it a morning service or a commencement, we have gathered here to listen to pitch-perfect choirs, hear stirring words, and enjoy the sounds of the magnificent organ. All experiences, beautiful in their own way. And after the attacks of September 11, 2001, President Lawrence Summers asked us to gather in front of Memorial Church, to hear the words of religious leaders of all faiths—and, yes, for each of us to pray in our own way.

Certainly no individual, group, or institution has the monopoly on the cultivation of goodness. But American colleges and universities, blessed with talent and resources, ought to lead the pursuit of positive relations among groups, be they as small as those in a college residence hall, or as large as the billions on our planet. Keats was not literally correct—all virtues are not equivalent. Yet if we at this university set a stirring example, perhaps, just perhaps, there will be the convergence of truthful statements, beautiful experiences, and good relations.

Categories: Blog

Education in the US and Finland

April 29, 2015 - 8:54am

Howard Gardner and Pasi Sahlberg have been jointly interviewed for an article in Cathy Rubin’s “The Global Search for Education” blog in The Huffington Post.

In this piece, Gardner and Sahlberg discuss what has made Finnish K-12 education and American higher education so successful and admired around the world. The two also share their opinions on the current educational landscape, threats to quality, and how to interpret “Good Work” in these two systems.

Read the full blog post via The Huffington Post by clicking here.

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Coverage from the Brock Prize Symposium

April 22, 2015 - 9:43am

On March 24, 2015, Howard Gardner was awarded the Brock International Prize in Education for his worldwide contributions to practice in the field of education. An annual award presented to an influential or innovative educator, Gardner is the first scholar from Harvard University to be so honored. 

Speaking at the Brock Prize Symposium at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma in a conversation moderated by President Richard K. Miller of Olin College, Gardner answered questions about his groundbreaking work on multiple intelligences (MI) theory, including the power of individuation and pluralization in educating for student understanding. Gardner also described his more recent work on the Good Project, including research investigating ethics in young people, whether a moral intelligence exists, how to discover the meaning of the “good,” and the distinction between the conceptions of neighborly morality and ethics of roles in a modern society.

A full video of the symposium event featuring discussion with Howard Gardner is available via YouTube below:

Additionally, an interview with Howard Gardner on Public Radio Tulsa program StudioTulsa in which he discusses his work and the award is accessible by clicking here.

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Intelligences and their Good Use

April 14, 2015 - 12:30pm

An interview with Howard Gardner has been featured in the Spring 2015 edition of Brain World magazine.

Titled “Multiple Intelligences and Their Good Use,” the exclusive interview includes Gardner’s thoughts about educational practices, technology in the classroom, individualized education, creativity, and the state of the liberal arts. 

Click here to read Gardner’s full interview, and pick up a copy of Brain World at your local newsstand today!

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Education Update Reviews The App Generation

April 8, 2015 - 9:35am

Education Update, a monthly news magazine covering educational topics, has featured a review of Howard Gardner and Katie Davis’s book The App Generation in their March/April 2015 issue.

Writer Merri Rosenberg covers some of the main points from the book in her review, including the conception among youth of life as a series of apps and the variable effects of technology on creativity (lower creative ability in literary pursuits but enhanced creativity in visual arts). Overall, Gardner and Davis are not technophobes but instead argue that new digital medias and technological advances should be used responsibly to enhance our minds and lives, not limit them. To quote from The App Generation, “the birth of apps need not destroy the human capacities to generate new issues and new solutions,” and we can learn to approach problems “with the aid of technology when helpful and otherwise to rely on one’s wit.”

To read the review in full via Education Update, please click here

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Attention for Multiple Intelligences from France

April 2, 2015 - 1:06pm

Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has been receiving an abundance of attention in recent weeks from France and the Francophone world.

First, a conference on the topic of MI theory took place on March 24, 2015, in La Rochelle, France, co-organized by Apel (Association des parents d’élèves de l’enseignement libre), newspaper la Croix, and bi-monthly magazine Cerveau & Psycho. Gardner participated in a short, pre-recorded video interview about MI that was shown at the event, which is available below via YouTube (French subtitles):

A PowerPoint presentation shown at the conference is available by clicking here.

The conference itself generated a fair amount of publicity, including a special edition of Cerveau&Psycho (March-April 2015) with three separate full-length articles about multiple intelligences theory. These were (available in French by clicking on the appropriate description):

The magazine also published the results of a parent survey about which intelligences parents would most like to foster in their children.

Furthermore, La Croix devoted a large spread in its March 25, 2015, edition to a group of articles about multiple intelligences, which included:

Additional materials are available via the Apel website. Photos from the conference have been published on the Apel Facebook page

Other French media outlets have also seemed to indicate a heightened awareness of multiple intelligences recently. Daily newspaper Libération featured an article about using MI theory in schools to enhance learning outcomes, and radio broadcaster France Inter’s program “La tête au carré” also devoted a show to MI. These developments follow the release of stories in L’Express and BioInfo about multiple intelligences at the end of 2014, initially reported on Gardner’s official MI website, multipleintelligencesoasis.org

One group in France has even created a children’s song explaining each of the components of MI, recorded by The Smartles, with animated characters to match (see the video below, with English subtitles):

Finally, below is an interesting exchange from a French student studying MI theory at university that Gardner recently received.

Mr. Gardner, 

I’m a student in the French university Panthéon-Assas. I come to you because I’m actually working on studying qualities of detectives. I’m working with your multiple intelligences theory, and I should be glad and proud if you could tell me few words about what you think are the intelligences of a detective (to be able to investigate as well as possible). 

Thank you for your time.


Scholar in France


Dear Scholar,

Thank you for your note and your interest in multiple intelligences.

You raise an interesting question. As detectives are conventionally portrayed in the media (I have never spoken to a detective in person), they rely heavily on making deductions. That seems to me like logical-mathematical intelligence. But detectives are also interested in motivation—why would X have robbed or killed Y?—and that involves interpersonal intelligence. Depending on the nature of the clues, any intelligence could be involved. For example, if a victim left a note to be read, that involves linguistic intelligence. Or if there is a physical trail to be pursued, that activates spatial intelligence. And so on.  

So, as in many areas of life, proficiency can involve a number of intelligences, and individuals might differ on which intelligences they make use of.

I hope that this answers your query.

With best wishes,

Howard Gardner

We are excited to announce all of these developments from France, and we look forward to seeing how multiple intelligences theory will continue to receive interest in French-speaking parts of the world!

Categories: Blog

Bloomsburg Creates Professorship of Good Work

March 25, 2015 - 8:16am

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, a close partner of the Good Project, has recently created the Joan and Frank Miller Distinguished Professor of Good Work position. The professorship was established with a gift from Joan Miller, a retired faculty member from the University who incorporated Good Work into the nursing students’ curriculum and helped to start a wider Good Work Initiative across Bloomsburg, and her husband. The position is a three-year renewable chair that recognizes a particular faculty member for achievements related to the values of good work.

We are excited to announce that the first Distinguished Professor of Good Work is Mary Katherine Duncan, a faculty member in Psychology at Bloomsburg and co-founder of Bloomsburg’s Good Work Initiative.

To learn more, click here to read a press release from BU.

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