Howard Gardner Comments on Proposal to Integrate Music and Math Education

As a serious lover of music (of various genres), I’m delighted when anyone recommend that musical thinking/ musical intelligence be part of school curricula. Indeed, it is tragic that in so many American schools, music (and other art forms) are the first to be marginalized—athletics almost never is!

As is argued in this article, music can often provide a promising ‘entry point’ to the understanding of various curricula—from mathematics to history to science.  And it can work especially well for those who are blessed with strong musical intelligence.

Yet, I get nervous when people suggest that we should use music instrumentally (no pun intended). We do not justify the teaching of mathematics just because it might heighten one’s musical intelligence. Once we use music only to raise math scores, music becomes vulnerable if we find another way to raise math scores even more.

Part of education should be the ability to appreciate and to create in various art forms.  Involvement with the arts enriches life. Ask anyone whose life is rich with the arts whether they would willingly give up the arts, and I guarantee that the answer is ‘no’. As far as they are concerned, as far as I am concerned, if the arts help with math or SAT scores, that’s just a bonus.

 

Two Surprising MI Fans

Howard Gardner’s most well-known contribution to psychology, the theory of multiple intelligences (MI), has been extensive employed in educational contexts since its proposal in the 1983 book Frames of Mind. Today, thousands of educators across the world use MI theory as an integral part of their classrooms or as a foundational philosophy of their schools.

As the United States presidential election of 2016 approaches, many politically-relevant articles have been published profiling the major players. In two of these pieces, both Hillary Clinton and Charles Koch have been revealed as MI fans!

First, via The Huffington Post, journalist Susan Ochshom discusses Clinton’s 1996 book It Takes A Village about the future of America’s children, in which she reveals an interest in multiple intelligences theory. This issue has been brought back to the fore due to Clinton’s nomination as the Democratic candidate for the presidency.

Second, in an interview with The Washington Post, conservative businessman and donor Charles Koch describes an early realization that he was gifted in mathematics and his broadened understanding of human intelligence through MI theory.

While coming from two sides of the political spectrum, Koch and Clinton’s appreciation of MI is an interesting demonstration of the theory’s wide applicability. Click the two links above to read the articles in full.