Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice

By Howard Gardner | Go to book overview

PROPEL or PIFS units that are prepackaged, teachers begin to experiment with the units, adapting them, infusing them into the regular part of the educational day.It is not any longer "The Harvard Program" or "The Project Zero Program"—it is simply what we do because we believe that it suits our purposes.

Looking inward. After one has a sense of what one wants to accomplish and how one is accomplishing it, an impulse naturally arises to become reflective about the program. How is it working, how could it be improved, how can its course be documented? One has sufficient distance from the program that one can identify productive and disruptive occasions without feeling threatened.

Looking outward. After one has a sense of the program as a whole, one may well wish to share the program with others by describing it publicly, having visitors look at it critically, traveling to other sites, promulgating the program, or even "giving it away." At this point, researchers prove superfluous; they can move on to carry on research at other sites, as other educators announce that they wish to adopt the program at "their place."

The points just reviewed denote an ideal sequence of events. In real life, there will be regressions, problems, obstacles, crises, as well as moments of euphoria and documentation of real gains. Every program is different but, as a researcher, I have noted some trouble spots: (1) teachers who say "This is impossible," or "We're already doing this," and, not infrequently, utter both statements without being aware of the contradiction; (2) the absence of early leaders, early adaptors—individuals who are willing to take a risk and are not afraid of failure; and (3) silence, a lack of eye contact, and everyone looking down on the ground.On the other hand, there are hopeful signs: (1) administrators who are well briefed about the program; (2) parents who ask to come and observe; and (3) teachers who raise questions that they themselves would like to investigate, and who criticize constructively.

On occasion there may be a tremendous brouhaha among the participants, perhaps teachers versus researchers, perhaps within the teacher or the researcher group. Sometimes this fight spells the end of the program; but sometimes it is cathartic, allowing all the participants to bracket their differences and get on with the program.

Note that these hopeful signs and trouble spots represent the perspective of the researcher. I am sure that teachers, administrators, parents, and students also develop a sense of when a collaboration with researchers is promising and when it seems earmarked for failure.

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