Home > Books, Cognition, creativity, curriculum, Ideas, Learning, Methodology, philosophy, teacher information > Mr. Little Posts on Multiple Intelligences

Mr. Little Posts on Multiple Intelligences

September 8, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

The tallest member of the LJHS staff has a nice post on Howard Gardner’s  theory of multiple intelligences:

Multiple Intelligences & How We Learn 

Thursday we will identify the kind of “learners” that we are. Students will take a quiz to discover the ways they best learn and interact with others. To show what we learned, students will be making a “Student Inventory Sheet (SIS),” which will contain this information.  Both the students and I will have a copy to reference throughout the year.  Understanding the way we learn is crucial. It helps us feel comfortable and succeed in school by choosing the appropriate partners, projects and study habits. Later, this knowledge becomes an important factor in deciding our careers. Starting to identify ourselves now has been very helpful to students, not to mention a little fun.

Take the Learning Styles Quiz Here: This uses the Multiple Intelligences theory (Howard Gardner), identifying the 8 major “kinds of smart” that students are. Students find out what their areas of strength are, as well as weaknesses. This has been the most interesting so far.  This is what your test result should look like….. 

Read the rest here.

Howard Gardner has also written extensively on creativity in Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century  ,  Extraordinairy Minds and Five Minds for the Future. Gardner tends to take a restrictive view of creative thinking that aligns him somewhat with the ideas of Charles Murray and Mihaly Csikszentmihaly:

My definition of creativity has revealing parallels with, and differences from, my definition of intelligence….

….People are creative when they can solve problems, create products or raise issues in a domain in a way that is initially novel but is eventually accepted in one or more cultural settings…The acid test of creativity is simple: in the wake of a putatively creative work, has the domain subsequently been changed?

….Let me underscore the relationship between my definitions of intelligence and creativity. Both involve solving problems and creating products. Creativity includes the additional category of asking new questions- something that is not expected of someone who is”merely” intelligent, in my terms. Creativity differs from intelligence in two additional respects. First, the creative person is always operating in a discipline or craft. One is not creative or noncreative in general; even Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps the Western World’s ultimate Rnaissance man….was creative in certain domains, like painting and invention, and not nearly as creative in others. Most creators stand out in one domain or, at most, in two.

This argument is problematic for several reasons.

First, and most importantly, it is not particularly useful advice in terms of educating children.

“Creativity” is not a single activity, momentary event or cognitive function but a collection of related ones like divergent thinking, lateral/horizontal thinking, analogous/metaphoric thinkingsynthesis, insight, “tweaking”, free play and collaboration. Development of skill in these activities requires practice and the early efforts, however feeble, are also creative – just not significantly so when measured on a scale against, say, Albert Einstein or Leonardo Da Vinci.

The truth is, even Einstein wasn’t “Einstein” when he was in the fourth grade, so when considering how to inculcate or assess more creative thinking in our students, we need to use more realistic benchmarks than what Professor Gardner is offering..

Secondly, A clearer a priori rejection of synthesis, horizontal thinking and consilience could hardly be written. One that is profoundly weird, in my view ,given that some of the more highly significant acts of scientific discovery were precipitated by seemingly trivial observation of mundane events that yielded a moment when a sweeping insight crystallized. A history that begins with Archimedes of Syracuse and works forward to the present day.

Gardner is correct that highly creative people are not able to be equally creative in all fields in which they have no reference or skill mastery as where they have demonstrated expertise but that is akin to saying that because Michael Jordan could not hit a baseball as well as he could a jump shot, therefore he has no intrinsic athletic ability. Put Jordan up against a couch potato in a sport neither have ever played or seen before and lay odds on who will have the best initial performance. How can “kinesthetic intelligence” be intrinsic but not “creativity” ?

Finally, Gardner’s bias against lateral/horizontal thinking across domains conflicts with the nature of intellectual creativity itself which struggles against the constraining rules that constitute the definitional standards, official orthodoxy and received wisdom of the field’s trained experts. How, for example, was Einstein’s ” Big C “ creativity ( to use Gardner’s term) possible when Relativity theory and quantum mechanics violated the precepts of the long established scientific world of Newtonian physics ?

Creative people work not merely in domains but, especially, across them. Something Howard Gardner ought to know better than most people. Teaching children to think in a domain or subject area is not harmed by teaching them to see connections across different disciplines!!

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: