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Howard Gardner is a developmental psychologist and the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He holds positions as Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.
Among numerous honors, Gardner received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1981. In 1990, he was the first American to receive the University of Louisville's Grawemeyer Award in Education and in 2000 he received a Fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2005 and again in 2008 he was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world. He has received honorary degrees from twenty-two colleges and universities, including institutions in Ireland, Italy, Israel, and Chile.
The author of over twenty books translated into twenty-seven languages, and several hundred articles, Gardner is best known in educational circles for his theory of multiple intelligences, a critique of the notion that there exists but a single human intelligence that can be assessed by standard psychometric instruments. During the past twenty five years, he and colleagues at Project Zero have been working on the design of performance-based assessments, education for understanding, and the use of multiple intelligences to achieve more personalized curriculum, instruction, and assessment. In the middle 1990s, Gardner and his colleagues launched The GoodWork Project. "GoodWork" is work that is excellent in quality, personally engaging, and exhibits a sense of responsibility with respect to implications and applications. Researchers have examined how individuals who wish to carry out good work succeed in doing so during a time when conditions are changing very quickly, market forces are very powerful, and our sense of time and space is being radically altered by technologies, such as the web. Gardner and colleagues have also studied curricula. Gardner's books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. Among his books are The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts and Standardized Tests, The K-12 Education that Every Child Deserves (Penguin Putnam, 2000) Intelligence Reframed (Basic Books, 2000), Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet (Basic Books, 2001), Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds (Harvard Business School Press, 2004), and Making Good: How Young People Cope with Moral Dilemmas at Work (Harvard University Press, 2004; with Wendy Fischman, Becca Solomon, and Deborah Greenspan). These books are available through the Project Zero eBookstore.
Currently Gardner continues to direct the GoodWork project, which is concentrating on issues of ethics with secondary and college students. In addition, he co-directs the GoodPlay and Trust projects; a major current interest is the way in which ethics are being affected by the new digital media.
In 2006 Gardner published Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons, The Development and Education of the Mind, and Howard Gardner Under Fire. In Howard Gardner Under Fire, Gardner's work is examined critically; the book includes a lengthy autobiography and a complete biography. In the spring of 2007, Five Minds for the Future was published by Harvard Business School Press. Responsibility at Work, which Gardner edited, was published in the summer of 2007.
Question: Is our culture biased towards one type of intelligence over another?
Howard Gardner: Well the theory claims we all had these eight intelligences and people are different from one another in their profile of intelligences and there’s no necessary link between one intelligence and the other. It also is based on the assumption that we wouldn’t have these intelligences if they haven’t been valuable in human evolution. An example I like to use is that the—we developed the natural intelligence so we knew what to eat and what not to eat, to be able to pay attention to which animals to run away from and which animals to hunt and of course which plants to eat and which ones—there’s a reason why we're sensitive to the world of nature.
Now most of us, particularly people who watch this, they go to super markets and they don't have to know anything about the wild, but I think that the neural networks which evolved to help us get around in the Savannah’s of East Africa 50,000 years ago, they're now being used for consumer society and we decide which shoes to buy and which car to buy and we're looking at the same kinds of things that our ancestors did but we’re doing it in terms of walking through the mall rather than walking through the—running though the Savannah and hoping we won’t get eaten by some kind of a creature.
As history unfolds, as cultures evolve, of course the intelligences which they value change. I would say, until a hundred years ago, if you wanted to have higher education, linguistic intelligence was important. I teach at Harvard and a 125 years ago, 150 years ago, the entrance exams were Latin, Greek and Hebrew. If, for example, you were dyslexic, that would be very difficult because it would be hard for you to learn those languages, which are basically written languages. People don’t speak Greek when they were in ancient Greek.
Over the last century, clearly the logical mathematical intelligence is something we pay a lot of attention to and the linguistic intelligence is a little bit more of an option. But once one looks at the world of occupations, we have hundreds of occupations and I think the reason that Dan Goleman’s work on social and emotion intelligence has got so much attention is because while your IQ, which is sort of language logic, will get you behind the desk, if you don’t know how to deal with people, if you don't know how to read yourself, you know you’re going to ending up just staying at that desk forever or eventually being asked to make room for somebody who does have social or emotional intelligence.
When the singularity occurs and the machines are smarter than we are, then it’s the artistic kinds of intelligence or intelligence used artistically to be more precise, which will come to the fore.
Question: Is the theory of Multiple Intelligences reformist?
Howard Gardner: I think you can talk about reformism in two sentences, one is it’s clear that when I developed this theory in the late 1970s I was trying to reform the way psychologists and other people think about intelligence. So certainly I had an iconoclastic or reformist inclination there. I was kind of surprised the psychologists didn’t all line up in a row and say, "You’re right. We’ve been wrong for 100 years." That’s somewhat facetious but I was surprised in how much interest there was within the educational world, and there I would say gradually, I switched from simply saying this is how I think the mind is organized and how it has developed to I think there are maybe there are things differently in education because of the theory.
Then really in the last 15 years, I think I’ve become much more reformist because I have been concerned about the ethical dimensions of our society. That doesn’t grow in any natural way out of multiple intelligences theory. If I look at it somewhat autobiographically, as a young person I was very much involved with music. I was a serious pianist and while I never thought about a career in music, music was and has been very important to me. Then when I got to college I became interested in the art forms and then I spent a year in England as a Fellow and I really immersed myself in drama. It’s great to do in theater in London and art galleries and sort of expanded my artistic horizons and then when I went to graduate school in psychology I was stunned at how the arts were never mentioned.
To be a developed person cognitively meant to be a scientist and to think scientifically. We could speculate about why that’s so, but the serious book I wrote was called the Arts and Human Development. And what I said in that book, this was in the early '70s, is all the developmental psychology has thought of science as the apotheosis of human development, yet science is a modern Western invention and we might well never have invented science, if we had not Galileo and Copernicus and Newton. On the other hand, arts exist in just about every society and they’re very important, so can we conceptualize development in terms of the arts as well as the sciences.
Question: Is intelligence determined more by nurture or nature?
Howard Gardner: Well, as you probably know, as the viewers probably know, nowadays nobody takes extreme positions on that issue. Maybe someday the press will learn not to take extreme positions on the issue. And I certainly believe that every intelligence has genetic components; how else would it exist? And every intelligence has certain heritability; that’s the technical term for how much of the variation of population has to do with who your biological grandparents were, because that’s a better set of genes than your parents because you have four sets rather than two.
We don’t know what the heritability is of most intelligences, but from a lot of research we know that on the average human traits are about 0.5 heritable. That means that genes make a big contribution but so do parents, culture, the media, peers and so on.
I guess I never put it this way before, but maybe what I would say is the intelligences that you favor are probably ones where you have a genetic predisposition, but how use those intelligences is going to be overwhelmingly determined by the culture in which you were born and your parents and what they value and whether you get along with your parents and that kind of thing. So the deployment of intelligences is probably largely a nurture factor. But if say if the Bach family had a lot of genes going for it in the music area and probably that was pretty likely that they were going end up being musicians even if they hadn’t—even if they been so to speak separated at birth and they’d been raised in another kind of family.
Question: If there are so many ways to be smart, what does it mean to be "stupid"?
Howard Gardner: The first thing I would say is that life isn’t fair and some people are going to be strong in a lot of intelligences and some people aren’t. I think of the intelligences as a set of computers. If you wanted to summarize my theory in a sentence, we used to think there was just one general computer in here and if you were good at one thing, you’d be good at everything. If you’re lousy in one thing, you’re smarter across the board. Stupid across the board. I think the step I took, I would call it an advance is you can be very smart with language, average with music, lousy with understanding other people, or vice versa. There’s no necessarily correlation between the two.
I think stupid has two very different connotations. One is that your computer isn’t very good. For example, I’m not biologically very good spatially, but the truth is with a map and a position determiner and some special attention to the environment I can do perfectly well, but I suppose if there were a test of spatial intelligence I wouldn’t do very well.
So, one meaning for stupid is it takes you a long to do what it takes other people who are smarter in that intelligence. I’m very musical, especially when I was younger, I heard something once, not only could I remember it, I couldn’t forget it. So that’s smart in kind of a technical sense.
But the other sense of stupid, but I think is much more important, is how do you go about leading your life? Do you know what you’re trying to do? Can you achieve it? When you make mistake, do you make same mistake again? Or do you simply stick in a rut? That has to do with your own understanding of yourself, what you’re trying to achieve; what I call intra-personal intelligence. I much rather to have somebody who was stupid in the first sense but had a good sense of how to negotiate their way through life, than somebody who had the computers going full blast but kept knocking their head against the wall.
I make fun of Mensa—I don’t know a great deal about Mensa, that’s the high IQ group—but I say, "To get into Mensa, you have to have a high IQ, and once you get in, you spend your time congratulating people who are in Mensa with you." To me that’s a pretty stupid way to spend your life.
Recorded On: September 3, 2009
The psychologist argues that different periods in history have shown biases towards different types of intelligence, and that this bias will continue to shift with time.
Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?
- Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
- It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
- COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
What conditions of the new normal were already appreciated widely?<p>First, we understand that higher education is unique among industries. Some industries are governed by markets. Others are run by governments. Most operate under the influence of both markets and governments. And then there's higher education. Higher education as an "industry" involves public, private, and for-profit universities operating at small, medium, large, and now massive scales. Some higher education industry actors are intense specialists; others are adept generalists. Some are fantastically wealthy; others are tragically poor. Some are embedded in large cities; others are carefully situated near farms and frontiers.</p> <p>These differences demonstrate just some of the complexities that shape higher education. Still, we understand that change in the industry is underway, and we must be active in directing it. Yet because of higher education's unique (and sometimes vexing) operational and structural conditions, many of the lessons from change management and the science of industrial transformation are only applicable in limited or highly modified ways. For evidence of this, one can look at various perspectives, including those that we have offered, on such topics as <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/rethinking-higher-education/lessons-disruption" target="_blank">disruption</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/education/learning/education-technology.html" target="_blank">technology management</a>, and so-called "<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/Excerpt_IHESpecialReport_Growing-Role-of-Mergers-in-Higher-Ed.pdf" target="_blank">mergers and acquisitions</a>" in higher education. In each of these spaces, the "market forces" and "market rules" for higher education are different than they are in business, or even in government. This has always been the case and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p> <p>Second, with so much excitement about innovation in higher education, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that students are—and should remain—the core cause for innovation. Higher education's capacity to absorb new ideas is strong. But the ideas that endure are those designed to benefit students, and therefore society. This is important to remember because not all innovations are designed with students in mind. The recent history of innovation in higher education includes several cautionary tales of what can happen when institutional interests—or worse, <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/09/apollos-new-owners-seek-fresh-start-beleaguered-company" target="_blank">shareholder</a> interests—are placed above student well-being.</p>
Photo: Getty Images<p>Third, it is abundantly apparent that universities must leverage technology to increase educational quality and access. The rapid shift to delivering an education that complies with social distancing guidelines speaks volumes about the adaptability of higher education institutions, but this transition has also posed unique difficulties for colleges and universities that had been slow to adopt digital education. The last decade has shown that online education, implemented effectively, can meet or even surpass the quality of in-person <a href="https://link-springer-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/article/10.1007/s10639-019-10027-z" target="_blank">instruction</a>.</p><p>Digital instruction, broadly defined, leverages online capabilities and integrates adaptive learning methodologies, predictive analytics, and innovations in instructional design to enable increased student engagement, personalized learning experiences, and improved learning outcomes. The ability of these technologies to transcend geographic barriers and to shrink the marginal cost of educating additional students makes them essential for delivering education at scale.</p><p>As a bonus, and it is no small thing given that they are the core cause for innovation, students embrace and enjoy digital instruction. It is their preference to learn in a format that leverages technology. This should not be a surprise; it is now how we live in all facets of life.</p><p>Still, we have only barely begun to conceive of the impact digital education will have. For example, emerging virtual and augmented reality technologies that facilitate interactive, hands-on learning will transform the way that learners acquire and apply new knowledge. Technology-enabled learning cannot replace the traditional college experience or ensure the survival of any specific college, but it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale. This has always been the case, and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p>
What conditions of the new normal were emerging suspicions?<p>Our collective thinking about the role of institutional or university-to-university collaboration and networking has benefitted from a new clarity in light of COVID-19. We now recognize more than ever that colleges and universities must work together to ensure that the American higher education system is resilient and sufficiently robust to meet the needs of students and their families.</p> <p>In recent weeks, various commentators have suggested that higher education will face a wave of institutional <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/scott-galloway-predicts-colleges-will-close-due-to-pandemic-2020-5" target="_blank">closures</a> and consolidations and that large institutions with significant online instruction capacity will become dominant.</p> <p>While ASU is the largest public university in the United States by enrollment and among the most well-equipped in online education, we strongly oppose "let them fail" mindsets. The strength of American higher education relies on its institutional diversity, and on the ability of colleges and universities to meet the needs of their local communities and educate local students. The needs of learners are highly individualized, demanding a wide range of options to accommodate the aspirations and learning styles of every kind of student. Education will become less relevant and meaningful to students, and less responsive to local needs, if institutions of higher learning are allowed to fail. </p> <p>Preventing this outcome demands that colleges and universities work together to establish greater capacity for remote, distributed education. This will help institutions with fewer resources adapt to our new normal and continue to fulfill their mission of serving students, their families, and their communities. Many had suspected that collaboration and networking were preferable over letting vulnerable colleges fail. COVID-19's new normal seems to be confirming this.</p>
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during the Arizona State University graduation ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium May 13, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona. Over 65,000 people attended the graduation.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images<p>A second condition of the new normal that many had suspected to be true in recent years is the limited role that any one university or type of university can play as an exemplar to universities more broadly. For decades, the evolution of higher education has been shaped by the widespread imitation of a small number of elite universities. Most public research universities could benefit from replicating Berkeley or Michigan. Most small private colleges did well by replicating Williams or Swarthmore. And all universities paid close attention to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. It is not an exaggeration to say that the logic of replication has guided the evolution of higher education for centuries, both in the US and abroad.</p><p>Only recently have we been able to move beyond replication to new strategies of change, and COVID-19 has confirmed the legitimacy of doing so. For example, cases such as <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/10/harvard-moves-classes-online-advises-students-stay-home-after-spring-break-response-covid-19/" target="_blank">Harvard's</a> eviction of students over the course of less than one week or <a href="https://www.nhregister.com/news/coronavirus/article/Mayor-New-Haven-asks-for-coronavirus-help-Yale-15162606.php" target="_blank">Yale's apparent reluctance</a> to work with the city of New Haven, highlight that even higher education's legacy gold standards have limits and weaknesses. We are hopeful that the new normal will include a more active and earnest recognition that we need many types of universities. We think the new normal invites us to rethink the very nature of "gold standards" for higher education.</p>
A graduate student protests MIT's rejection of some evacuation exemption requests.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images<p>Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we had started to suspect and now understand that America's colleges and universities are among the many institutions of democracy and civil society that are, by their very design, incapable of being sufficiently responsive to the full spectrum of modern challenges and opportunities they face. Far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted. And without new designs, we can expect postsecondary success for these same students to be as elusive in the new normal, as it was in the <a href="http://pellinstitute.org/indicators/reports_2019.shtml" target="_blank">old normal</a>. This is not just because some universities fail to sufficiently recognize and engage the promise of diversity, this is because few universities have been designed from the outset to effectively serve the unique needs of lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color.</p>
Where can the new normal take us?<p>As colleges and universities face the difficult realities of adapting to COVID-19, they also face an opportunity to rethink their operations and designs in order to respond to social needs with greater agility, adopt technology that enables education to be delivered at scale, and collaborate with each other in order to maintain the dynamism and resilience of the American higher education system.</p> <p>COVID-19 raises questions about the relevance, the quality, and the accessibility of higher education—and these are the same challenges higher education has been grappling with for years. </p> <p>ASU has been able to rapidly adapt to the present circumstances because we have spent nearly two decades not just anticipating but <em>driving</em> innovation in higher education. We have adopted a <a href="https://www.asu.edu/about/charter-mission-and-values" target="_blank">charter</a> that formalizes our definition of success in terms of "who we include and how they succeed" rather than "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/17/forget-varsity-blues-madness-lets-talk-about-students-who-cant-afford-college/" target="_blank">who we exclude</a>." We adopted an entrepreneurial <a href="https://president.asu.edu/read/higher-logic" target="_blank">operating model</a> that moves at the speed of technological and social change. We have launched initiatives such as <a href="https://www.instride.com/how-it-works/" target="_blank">InStride</a>, a platform for delivering continuing education to learners already in the workforce. We developed our own robust technological capabilities in ASU <a href="https://edplus.asu.edu/" target="_blank">EdPlus</a>, a hub for research and development in digital learning that, even before the current crisis, allowed us to serve more than 45,000 fully online students. We have also created partnerships with other forward-thinking institutions in order to mutually strengthen our capabilities for educational accessibility and quality; this includes our role in co-founding the <a href="https://theuia.org/" target="_blank">University Innovation Alliance</a>, a consortium of 11 public research universities that share data and resources to serve students at scale. </p> <p>For ASU, and universities like ASU, the "new normal" of a post-COVID world looks surprisingly like the world we already knew was necessary. Our record breaking summer 2020 <a href="https://asunow.asu.edu/20200519-sun-devil-life-summer-enrollment-sets-asu-record" target="_blank">enrollment</a> speaks to this. What COVID demonstrates is that we were already headed in the right direction and necessitates that we continue forward with new intensity and, we hope, with more partners. In fact, rather than "new normal" we might just say, it's "go time." </p>
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Paul Krugman on the Virtues of Selfishness<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7ZtAkm6C" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="828936bf6953080e9018307354c0c02b"> <div id="botr_7ZtAkm6C_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7ZtAkm6C-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> The Nobel Prize-winning economist on the virtues of selfishness.
Evolution Is Moving Us Away from Selfishness. But Where Is It Taking ...<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cyeqmYCb" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="6c5efecb56456e9acc25cf36935b1826"> <div id="botr_cyeqmYCb_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cyeqmYCb-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cyeqmYCb-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cyeqmYCb-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Exploring Morality and Selfishness in Modern Times<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="02eX1Cag" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="45cc6180db791f32683988fb52faff26"> <div id="botr_02eX1Cag_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/02eX1Cag-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> Philosopher Peter Singer discusses the state of global ethics.
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Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.
- Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
- "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
- In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.