Is Howard Gardner Misunderstood?

In May 2018, Dr. Gary Stager (journalist, teacher educator, consultant, professor, software developer, and school STEM Director) posted an article titled “Thinking about Thinking about Howard Gardner” on his blog Stager-to-Go. In the article, Stager poses the question, “Is Howard Gardner the most misunderstood and misappropriated educationalist…in the world today or [is] he just the only theorist most educators have heard of?”

Dr. Gardner comments briefly below.


I appreciate Stager’s ‘shout-out’ to my work. It’s true that I write a lot and also that I am misunderstood a lot. (I am writing a memoir which addresses both issues). For now, I would say that I write because I become interested in topics and find that’s the best way to set down my thoughts. I’ve probably written 50 blogs in the past few years; I am happy if someone else reads them, but they are important chiefly because they give me a chance to see (as well as say) what I think. As for misunderstandings, I try whenever possible to set the record straight—for example, the difference between intelligences and learning styles—but if there is no one paying attention, there’s little that I can do.

- Howard Gardner


Click here to read Stager’s article:

Harvard Gazette Interviews Howard Gardner About His Life and Work

In the summer of 2017, Howard Gardner had a series of conversations with reporters from the Harvard Gazette, Harvard University’s official news website. The topics of these discussions ranged from Gardner’s early life and family to his lifelong scholarly work.

In May 2018, the Gazette released an in-depth profile of Gardner based on these conversations. We are pleased to share this interview with you, accessible by clicking here. In this piece, Gardner talks about the influences, challenges, surprises, and regrets that have influenced his personal life and career trajectory as a scholar and researcher.

(Photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer)


MI After 35 Years

On Saturday, March 24, 2018 Dr. Gardner and three of his colleagues, Dr. Branton Shearer, Dr. Thomas Armstrong, and Dr. Tom Hoerr presented at the ASCD Annual Conference in Boston, MA. Below is an excerpt from the ASCD newsletter, Volume 27, Number 6, written by Dr. Hoerr, that provides a portrait of the event.


Last month featured a really interesting presentation at the ASCD Annual Conference, “MI After 35 Years.” Yes, it’s been 35 years since Howard Gardner’s book, Frames Of Mind, changed how we view intelligence. Recognizing that intelligence is problem-solving, Garner identified the many different ways – the multiple intelligences – that people use to solve problems. Real-world problems, Gardner knew, are not limited to multiple-choice questions. Philosophically, understanding MI means that intelligence is not uni-dimensional and that each person possesses an array of intelligences. Pragmatically, understanding MI, we don’t ask “Who’s the smartest student in the class?” Rather, we ask, “How is each of these students smart?”

Branton Shearer, Thomas Armstrong, and I each spoke about MI from our perspectives, and then we were joined by Howard Gardner, who fielded questions from the audience and facilitated a discussion. I am biased, I know, but it was a great affirmation of the power of MI.
MI Group_HG, Branton Shearer, Tom Hoerr
L to R: Armstrong, Hoerr, Shearer, Gardner.

Branton Shearer, creator of the MIDAS, an MI assessment tool, shared his experiences from administering the survey and seeing its utility as a tool to aid in learning. Thomas Armstrong, author of Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, talked about how MI is research-based yet many psychometricians find it difficult to grasp. For sure, change is hard! I spoke from the perspective of leading an MI school for 30 years. I saw the power of MI each day, I said, in students’ learning and teachers’ teaching.

When Howard Gardner spoke, he noted that MI encompasses both individualization and pluralization. In using MI, we can individualize how we teach; we are able to teach to students in the ways that they learn. And MI pluralizes because it offers a variety of ways for students to learn and to show what they know. In using MI, we learn more about our students and we are better able to serve them.

This enthusiasm about MI – both from the four of us who presented as well as the 130+ in the audience – was evident. This causes one to wonder, “What happened to MI? and “Why aren’t there more MI schools?” (I used to hear that a lot when I lead New City School.) Branton Shearer offers a very good explanation of this in the following article!

Thomas R. Hoerr, PhD
Scholar In Residence at UM-St. Louis
Emeritus Head of the New City School
Facilitator of the ASCD MI Professional Interest Community


To view the entire newsletter, click here: