Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Education manifestos... part 6, Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is most well known for his seminal work, Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences.. Initially Gardner did not insert himself and his theory into debates on educational reform. He focused instead on the effort to enumerate and define the intellignces he believed comprised the entirety of human cognitive apparatus. He claimed that there were seven discreet intelligences:
Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals. This intelligence includes the ability to effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically; and language as a means to remember information. Writers, poets, lawyers and speakers are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high linguistic intelligence.

Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. In Howard Gardner's words, it entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.

Musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. According to Howard Gardner musical intelligence runs in an almost structural parallel to linguistic intelligence.

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one's whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements. Howard Gardner sees mental and physical activity as related.

Spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas.

Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others. Educators, salespeople, religious and political leaders and counsellors all need a well-developed interpersonal intelligence.

Intrapersonal intelligence

Later however Gardner did join the conversation about education. Gardner's personal preferences represent a blend of classical liberal arts curriculum sifted through the prism of mulitiple intelligences. Here is a quote from his book, The Disciplined Mind.

"I want everyone to focus on the content of an education -- the meat and potatoes: on how that content should be presented, mastered, put to use, and passed along to others. Specifically, I believe that three very important concerns should animate education; these concerns have names and histories that extend far back into the past. There is the realm of truth -- and its underside, what is false or indeterminable. There is the realm of beauty -- and its absence in experiences or objects that are ugly or kitschy. And there is the realm of morality -- what we consider to be good, and what we consider to be evil."

-- from the first chapter of 'The Disciplined Mind'


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