YPP Network Description

The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

Howard Gardner
Subscribe to Howard Gardner feed Howard Gardner
Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education / Harvard Graduate School of Education
Updated: 57 min 23 sec ago

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.

Categories: Blog

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.

Categories: Blog

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.

Categories: Blog

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.

Categories: Blog

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.

Categories: Blog

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.

Categories: Blog

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.

Categories: Blog

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!

Categories: Blog

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

Categories: Blog

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.

Categories: Blog

2015 Brock Prize Symposium

March 19, 2015 - 12:48pm

Tune in on Tuesday, March 24th, at 8:30pm ET to watch a live stream of Howard Gardner speaking at the Brock Prize Symposium in honor of his receipt of the 2015 Brock International Prize!

Click here to be taken to the site.

Categories: Blog

Grit Will Make a Difference

March 17, 2015 - 9:50am

In a January 28, 2015, article in the Education World blog, Jeffrey Beard, former director of the International Baccalaureate Organisation and Chairman/Founder of Global Study Pass, draws on Howard Gardner’s work on the Good Project and his current thoughts about “grit.”

As discussed in his talk for the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Campaign launch in Fall 2014, Gardner believes that “grit,” a concept popularized by Dr. Angela Duckworth that denotes perseverance and the accumulation of valued traits, is beneficial only when combined with the “good,” which Gardner has been studying for two decades on the Good Project. Because “grit” can be motivated in a negative direction for ill ends, “good grit” entails the use of our capacities for ends that benefit ourselves, our communities, and society as a whole.

Beard denotes two attributes that are essential for young people to develop “good grit”:
1) a “can-do” attitude that encourages a positive, constructive midset; and
2) exposure to cross-cultural experiential learning, which allows students heightened awareness of global and ethical responsibilities.

Beard concludes that in order to foster a sense of “good grit,” students need a top-notch education, supported by parents and peers, that encourages experiential learning and global understanding.

To read the full article in Education World, please click here.

Categories: Blog

Hunter College Great Thinker Series

March 10, 2015 - 1:27pm

On February 6, 2015, Howard Gardner spoke in New York City at Hunter College’s Creative Writing Center as a part of the school’s Great Thinkers Series lecture program. Delivering his talk “Beyond Wit and Grit,” Gardner spoke about the importance of cultivating our multifaceted intellectual capacities and of directing our work ethic and other energies towards positive ends. 

View the full talk below, and learn more about Gardner’s work on MI theory at multipleintelligencesoasis.org and his work on cultivation of the “good” at thegoodproject.org

Categories: Blog

A New Year, a New Approach

March 4, 2015 - 7:59am

The Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Usable Knowledge website is a portal that translates educational research into practical tools and information for educators.

At the start of 2015, Usable Knowledge featured Good Work Toolkit, a collection of materials and associated activities that encourages reflection about what it means to do “good” in professional and personal life. The Toolkit was created in 2004 by researchers from the Good Work Project, a large, multi-site research initiative founded by principal investigators Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Bill Damon, and Howard Gardner that investigated the nature of good work and discovered that it satisfies three components: excellence, ethics, and engagement (also known as the 3 Es).

The bulk of the Toolkit consists of dilemmas taken from actual interviews with professionals and students who encountered obstacles to good work, prompting discussants to think about how to best achieve what is good in the face of challenges. The content is intentionally adaptable to a variety of situations and environments, which allows the Toolkit to be easily used by individuals, students in a classroom, and professionals in workplaces.

To learn more about the Good Work Toolkit, click here to read the full article from Usable Knowledge.

Categories: Blog

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Re-Reframed

February 26, 2015 - 8:56am

In January 2015, Howard Gardner gave a three-part lecture series at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on the topic of the virtues of truth, beauty, and goodness. Based on his 2011 book Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed, Gardner shared his current thinking about how to impart the virtues in a postmodern, digitally-saturated era. After each of the three lectures, Gardner and Ashim Shanker, a Master’s student at HGSE, held discussion sections with students to talk about the ideas from the presentations.

Below is a summary of the lectures and the experience, written by Shanker (originally featured in the Good Project’s February newsletter):

In January, Howard Gardner delivered a series of three lectures entitled “Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed” at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Based upon his 2011 book of the same title, Gardner articulated definitions for each of these virtues, explored their tendency to shift according to evolving norms, and outlined the threats posed to them by postmodern criticism and the proliferation of digital media.

Describing truth as being “about the accuracy of statements and propositions,” Gardner contrasted the public trust once instilled in 20th century newscasters, such as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, with the cynicism of 21st century audiences, who are more skeptical than previous generations and more likely to get their news from late night comedians, such as Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. While audiences of an earlier era might have been satisfied by Cronkite’s nightly affirmation, “That’s the way it is,” audiences of today are more inclined to embrace a term popularized by Colbert to highlight the subjectivity behind political constructions of reality: truthiness. Further blurring the lines between truth and “truthiness” are online games, Wikipedia, and social media (such as Twitter), which offer platforms for the “viral” dissemination of information, which could well be misinformation. Acknowledging the importance of the truths accessible through the scholarly disciplines (such as science and mathematics) and the practical truths of professions (such engineering and medicine), Gardner highlighted the need for educators to focus students on the appropriate methods for converging as much as possible on the truths discovered by these pursuits.

Gardner characterized beauty as being “about experiences…primarily of nature and of the arts.” A beautiful experience must meet three criteria: (1) it should evoke interest, (2) its form should be memorable, and (3) it should invite revisiting. This definition could apply to art and nature just as well as it might to the experience of a meaningful conversation, a pleasant walk, or a satisfying meal. Referring to the article “When is Art?” by Project Zero founder Nelson Goodman, Gardner reflected on the importance of context, placement, and timing in defining in what manner an object or experience might be perceived as beautiful. Since one’s perceptions of how an object or phenomenon is beautiful can change over time, Gardner recommends that educators encourage the creation of an individualized portfolio of what one deems beautiful, “recording changing tastes and discrimination of differences.”

Drawing on examples from recent world events, as well as from his work on the Good Project, Gardner conceptualized goodness as being “about the quality of relations among human beings, those near to us as well as those more remote from us.” In view of the threats posed to our constructs of goodness by the proliferation of morally relativistic perspectives, it becomes more important than ever to find common ground between conflicting ethical paradigms. While “neighborly morality” remains an essential characteristic of goodness, the ethics associated with one’s roles, as a citizen and worker, are also equally important in complex modern societies. As indicated by the 3 E’s of the Good Project, a good citizen and worker must be ethically responsible, personally engaged, and technically excellent. In order for this to be possible, individuals require vertical support (from mentors, role models and paragons), horizontal support (from peers), and periodic booster shots (from reactions to the good, the bad, and the ugly).

Following each of the three lectures was a 90-minute discussion seminar facilitated by both Howard Gardner and Harvard graduate student Ashim Shanker. These sessions, in addition to addressing topics from the lectures, deeply integrated the philosophical treatises of Thomas S. Kuhn, Israel Scheffler, Kirk Varnedoe, Nelson Goodman, John Rawls, and Albert O. Hirschman. Seminar discussion topics ranged from the subjective selection of epistemological paradigms (frameworks of “truth”) to the ethical tensions individuals might face as a consequence of situational roles and/or institutional groupthink.

Extending beyond the ideas developed in his 2011 book, Gardner addressed in both the lecture and seminar sessions the ways in which truth, beauty, and goodness can be pursued and cultivated throughout one’s lifelong learning. He hopes to develop these ideas in future publications.

The lecture series was also featured in two Harvard publications. First, in the Harvard Gazette article “Truth vs. ‘truthiness,'” Gardner explains how the meaning of truth and how to verify true statements is in flux in modern society. Whereas in the past particular journalist were responsible for conveying truth to the masses, today’s landscape necessitates that the public investigate the evidence behind the “truth” in order to discern whether they are in agreement or not. Read the full article here via the Harvard Gazette.

Second, in an op-ed that appeared in Harvard Magazine entitled “‘Beauty,’ embodied,”a Harvard student describes the impact of Gardner’s lecture about beauty on her understanding of beautiful experiences and things. The full text, including Gardner’s response to her in the comments in which he clarifies particular points, is available here via the Harvard Magazine‘s website.

Categories: Blog