On Monday, November 17th, Howard Gardner brought his theory of multiple intelligences to the Salmagundi Clubin Manhattan . Hosted by NYU, the 90 minute conversation with colleague Marcelo Suárez-Orozco could have just as easily been filled by reeling off his resume, according to Mary Brabeck, Dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human development. Having the difficult task of succinctly initiating the evening with an introduction that encompassed Dr. Gardner's achievements, says said, "When it comes to Howard Gardner, there is no briefly."
Professor Suárez-Orozco began the conversation by tying the beginning to the end. "How did you getfrom Scranton , Pennsylvania to here," he asked.
Escaping from Nazi Germany in 1938, his family settled in Scranton where manual labor awaited his father. Living a sheltered life, he assumed all the movie punch lines leveled at Scranton were simply dubbed to fit the name of the town where movies happened to be playing. Upon making his escape to Harvard in the early 60's, it surprised him that, he says, "They were still making fun of Scranton ."
His initial inclination toward higher education had him pigeonholed in accordance to his background. "I was a proverbial Jewish boy who hated the sight of blood so that left the law," he joked.
The luck of having Erik Erikson as a tutor turned him toward a life of scholarship. As the last class untouched by Vietnam , societal change was still in its infancy. "We had a protest to integrate the library - women were not allowed," he says.
Academically, change was coming at a faster pace. Positivism was giving way to what he describes as the "cooler insights" of the cognitive revolution, which was complemented by another revolution. If computers could mimic our behavior, and its processes could be figured out, so then could the human mind, he says.
But he almost did not move along with the field. In competition for limited positions, graduate students had to catch the eye of professors by conforming to their visions. Gardner was going to leave school but with the encouragement of Professor Roger Brown, he moved forward, unencumbered by the constraints of others.
So seeing the
Regardless that he trademarked the brain into eight separate computational devices, it annoys him when he hears a statement like, "I'm spatial smart." This incorrectly defines what the theory is after. Instead, the eight intelligences should provide eight different teaching strategies to reach the strengths of each student.
Nonetheless, even though the sun never sets on a theory that has no limits, according to Professor Suárez-Orozco, Dr. Gardner thinks it wasteful to stay stuck on the same course. 1994 swept in the Gingrich congress and a new revolution provided new direction. "Markets are great but you can't run a country on markets alone," he says.
"The Good Works" project arose as ethics did not move at anything close to revolutionary speed. In fact, Good Works concluded that the only ethical profession that would remain would be auditors - until Arthur Anderson did its part.
In his book, "Making Good," he found young people aspired to ethics but at some later date determined by comfort and standing. "Someday when we're rich and famous we'll be ethical but peers who cut corners will beat us to the top," he conveys their sentiment.
In some sense, this proves for him that there is no link between intelligence and morality. "I think we need to turn over a new leaf," he concluded.
Article originally appeared at http://www.educationupdate.com/archives/2008/DEC/html/cov-howard.html