Howard Gardner under Fire: The Rebel Psychologist Faces His Critics

Howard Gardner under Fire: The Rebel Psychologist Faces His Critics

Howard Gardner under Fire: The Rebel Psychologist Faces His Critics

Howard Gardner under Fire: The Rebel Psychologist Faces His Critics

Synopsis

Howard Gardner is most celebrated for his conception and development of the theory of Multiple Intelligences, which has revolutionized educational thinking. Gardner has also made outstanding original contributions to the study of leadership, creativity, child development, and humanly-fulfilling work.

Excerpt

Howard Gardner, a name to conjure with among today's public intellectuals, is most celebrated for his conception and development of the theory of Multiple Intelligences, which has revolutionized educational thinking. But Gardner has also made outstanding original contributions to the study of leadership, of creativity, of child development, and humanly-fulfilling work. All of these topics are explored in this volume, by way of a debate between Gardner and his critics.

It's in the theory of intelligence that Howard Gardner has made the biggest splash. Intelligence is an area charged with emotion. In the deep conflicts it stirs up, a test of intelligence is more like a test for HIV than a test of blood pressure. I have frequently encountered people whose problems-in-living were bound up with their perceptions of their own intelligence and its assessment. I will mention here a couple of cases out of many.

Years ago, an undergraduate student of mine was about to graduate and he looked somewhat down. I asked “aren't you happy you're going to graduate in a few days?” He said “I'm not happy at all.” I asked him why. He explained “I've hated college for the past four years and it's only since I've taken the last few courses with you that I've been excited about what I'm actually learning. Now that I'm finally excited, college is over. I was just beginning to enjoy college.”

I was touched and decided to talk to him more about why he was so unhappy in other classes. He told me that he was bored. His grades were always among the highest in the class. I noticed that he didn't seem to study much for exams in my courses and still wrote outstanding answers to exam questions. At one point he told me how much he hated the exams. When I questioned him about this, it came out that he had several times, in high school and college, been falsely accused by his teachers of cheating.

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