What Keeps Howard Gardner Up At Night

Question: What keeps you up at night?

Howard Gardner: What keeps me up. Other than the faucet dripping…Well, I'll give an honest answer. Number one is, I sleep very well. Number two, I'm much more likely to be kept up by family kinds of problems, especially ones which I think that I should be able to solve than I can, than by cosmic problems. But what gets me to work each day -- I think that's the deeper question that you're asking -- is whether there's anything that I can do in any particular role to nudge upward the amount of good work that's done, work that's excellent, engaging and ethical. And I made a big decision five or six years ago to begin to work much more with young students, secondary students, college students, trying to get them to think about ethical issues at a time when they aren't already having to hit a payroll and do what the boss says. And I'm still feeling that way.

I've worked at three colleges, and my team has worked at many, many secondary schools all over the world. And I wouldn't at all say that we've discovered the magic way of doing it, but I'm a great believer that people cannot deal with any kind of complex issue unless they've had to engage and think about it, discuss it, role-play and so on. And when I began the Good Work Project with my colleagues, one of them, Bill Damon, said, "If I could cure cancer," Bill said, "I would." He said, "I can't. I think working in Good Work is the most important thing that I can do." And I agree with him. I think that's the most important thing that I can do, and I try to use every venue, including this one, to raise people's consciousness about it. I mean, the problem prehistorically was, people could be very bad workers, and they could destroy their society, but the rest of the planet would survive.

Now we're in it all together, you know, whether it's, you know, disease or money or human beings. We circulate all around the world. Somebody who wants to do mischief could destroy the planet, could destroy all the people on it. And unless we develop the Good Work muscle regionally, locally, nationally and internationally, there won't be a planet.

Recorded On: September 3, 2009

 

 

Given the destructive power of the individual in the global era, Dr. Gardner is more concerned than ever about the necessity of good work.

Why information is central to physics and the universe itself

Information may not seem like something physical, yet it has become a central concern for physicists. A wonderful new book explores the importance of the "dataome" for the physical, biological, and human worlds.

Credit: agsandrew via Adobe Stock
13-8
  • The most important current topic in physics relates to a subject that hardly seems physical at all — information, which is central to thermodynamics and perhaps the universe itself.
  • The "dataome" is the way human beings have been externalizing information about ourselves and the world since we first began making paintings on cave walls.
  • The dataome is vast and growing everyday, sucking up an ever increasing share of the energy humans produce.
Keep reading Show less

Dogs know when people are lying

A new study tested to what extent dogs can sense human deception.

Credit: Adobe Stock / kozorog
Surprising Science
  • A study of 260 dogs found that, in some cases, dogs can tell when people are lying.
  • The experiments involved giving dogs information about the location of food.
  • The majority of the dogs did not follow false suggestions when they knew humans were lying.
  • Keep reading Show less

    CT scans of shark intestines find Nikola Tesla’s one-way valve

    Evolution proves to be just about as ingenious as Nikola Tesla

    Credit: Gerald Schömbs / Unsplash
    Surprising Science
    • For the first time, scientists developed 3D scans of shark intestines to learn how they digest what they eat.
    • The scans reveal an intestinal structure that looks awfully familiar — it looks like a Tesla valve.
    • The structure may allow sharks to better survive long breaks between feasts.
    Keep reading Show less

    Interoception: how to improve your "gut feeling"

    When we rely on the conscious mind alone, we lose; but when we listen to the body, we gain a winning edge.

    Credit: Anthony Tran via Unsplash
    Personal Growth
    • Our surroundings contain far more information than our conscious minds can process.
    • Our non-conscious minds are constantly gathering information and identifying patterns.
    • By being interoceptively attuned — that is, aware of the inner state of the body — we can tap into what our non-conscious mind is trying to tell us.
    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast