Howard Gardner has written editorial pieces for two European publications.
First, the August 18th, 2014, edition of the Danish magazine Frie Skoler included a statement with Gardner’s response to the question, “What is the ideal school?” The original feature is available here; the English version has been reprinted below.
I don’t believe that there is such a thing as an ideal school or school system. Indeed, I think that in any community that is not tiny, there should be choices offered to families. And of course, so much depends on whether one is talking about pre-school, elementary school, secondary school, higher education, or lifelong education.
But whatever the school or system or age bracket, there are two elements in particular that I would look for.
The first is individuation or personalization: to what extent are the particular abilities, interests, ways of learning, and motivations of the learner taken into account? There is never one best way to teach or learn something. The more thought that goes into the mode of presentation, uptake, and assessment, the more effective the education is likely to be.
The second is pluralization: are the important ideas, concepts, skills, and theories presented in a number of different ways? If you present important educational materials in a number of ways, you achieve two important goals. First, you reach more persons, because some learn better from written material or lectures, while some learn better from ‘hands-on’ or participatory activities. Second, you model what it is like to understand something fully and deeply, because if you truly understand something, you can represent it in several ways, and you should be able to communicate those ways to others.
Both individuation and pluralization grow out of my theory of multiple intelligences: the idea that we all have a range of computational powers (the several intelligences) and that these should be taken advantage of in teaching and learning. Pluralization has always been possible, though the digital media make it easier than in a non-digital era. Individuation is now easier than ever, because we can use digital media to personalize education—in a way that it has always been personalized for those individuals wealthy enough to hire a tutor.
Second, the Slovakian journal E-mental, an online journal of mental health, featured an editorial by Gardner at the front of its October-December 2014 issue. The full journal in Slovak is available here; the English version is reproduced below.
I’m pleased to have the opportunity to send a brief message to the readers of E-Mental. I’m trained as a psychologist, in both developmental psychology and neuropsychology. It was in working with the populations of gifted children and of adults with brain damage that I became convinced that the conventional teachings about intelligence and IQ could not be the whole story. Over thirty years ago, I proposed an alternative perspective—the theory of multiple intelligences—which has had much influence in education all over the world. You can learn about “MI Theory” at multipleintelligencesoasis.org.
In more recent times, I became convinced that intelligence—however defined—is in itself not enough. What is important is how you use your intellect. As an example: both Nelson Mandela and Slobodan Milosevic had considerable interpersonal intelligence. Mandela used his interpersonal intelligence to bring people together; Milosevic used his interpersonal intelligence to foment hatred and ethnic cleansing. With psychological colleagues Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and William Damon, I started the GoodWork Project, a study of how professionals can carry out work that is excellent in quality, personally engaging, and conducted in an ethical manner. Almost all of my energies now are devoted to various offshoots of this work. We have expanded and renamed our project the Good Project, and you can learn about our work at thegoodproject.org.
Even better, you can find ways to encourage ‘the goods’ in your own work and in the work of your close colleagues.
With all good wishes for the success of your new journal,