Mensa Research Journal Devotes Issue to Work of Howard Gardner

The latest issue of the Mensa Research Journal, Mensa’s triannual publication of scholarly articles related to intelligence, is devoted to the work of Howard Gardner. This dedication follows Howard Gardner’s receipt of the Mensa Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. The issue features eight research articles related to the theory of multiple intelligences, including a previously unpublished address Howard Gardner delivered upon receiving an honorary degree from José Cela University in Madrid, Spain, and the Prince of Asturias Prize for Social Science in Madrid, Spain.

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Photo sourced from mensafoundation.org

Click here to read more about the issue: https://www.mensafoundation.org/about-the-mensa-foundation/news/inside-mrj-49-1/

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)

 

Study Finds Game-Based Learning Can Increase Intelligences in Students

In January 2018, M. Esther del Moral Pérez, Alba P. Guzmán Duque, and L. Carlota Fernández García published an article titled, “Game-Based Learning Increasing the Logical-Mathematical, Naturalistic, and Linguistic Learning Levels of Primary School Students” in the Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research. Howard Gardner comments below:

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In the educational literature, there is continuing discussion of whether games can contribute to learning and, if so, in what ways.  As the title indicates this study of game-based learning provides suggestive evidence that three discrete intelligences can be enhanced by weekly hour-long sessions.

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Abstract:

Game-based learning is an innovative methodology that takes advantage of the educational potential offered by videogames in general and serious games in particular to boost training processes, thus making it easier for users to achieve motivated learning. The present paper focuses on the description of the Game to Learn Project, which has as its aim not only to promote the use of serious games and digital mini-games for the development of Multiple Intelligences, but also to analyse whether this methodology results in increased learning. Teachers assessed the level achieved by primary education students (N=119) in each learning category, before and after participating in the project, by means of a qualitative instrument. Finally, after corresponding analysis through descriptive statistical techniques, bivariate correlations, and ANOVA, the results showed significant differences between children’s learning levels in logical-mathematical, naturalistic and linguistic abilities before and after their participation in this innovative project, thus revealing a widespread increase in every indicator.

To read the full article, click here: Game-Based Learning Increasing the Logical-Mathematical, Naturalistic, and Linguistic Learning Levels of Primary School Students.

Comment on “Three Cognitive Dimensions for Tracking Deep Learning Progress”

The original metaphor for each of the several intelligences was that of a computer, or a computational device.  I sought to convey that that there exist different kinds of information in the world—information deliberately more abstract than a signal to a specific sensory organ—and that the human mind/brain has evolved to be able to assimilate and operate upon those different forms of information.  To be more concrete, as humans we are able to operate upon linguistic information, spatial information, musical information information about other persons and so on—and these operations constitute the machinery of the several intelligences.

Even at the time that the theory was conceived—around 1980—I was at least dimly aware that there existed various kinds of computational processes and devices. And by the middle 1980s, I had become aware of a major fault-line within the cognitive sciences. On the one hand there are those who (in the Herbert Simon or Marvin Minsky tradition) think of computers in terms of their operating upon strings of symbols—much like a sophisticated calculator or a translator. On the other hand, there are those who (in the David Rumelhart or James McClelland tradition) think of computers in terms of neural networks that change gradually as a result of repeated exposure to certain kinds of data presented in certain kinds of ways. A fierce battle ground featured rival accounts of how human beings all over the world master language so efficiently—but it eventually has played out with respect to many kinds of information.

Fast forward thirty years. Not only do we have computational devices that work at a speed and with amounts of information that were barely conceivable a few decades ago. We are also at the point where machines seem to have become so smart at so many different tasks—whether via symbol manipulation or parallel distributed processing or some other process or processes—that they resemble or even surpass the kinds of intelligence that, since Biblical times, we have comfortably restricted to human beings.  Artificial intelligence has in many respects (or in many venues) become more intelligent than human intelligence. And to add to the spice, genetic manipulations and direct interventions on the brain hold promise–or threat—of altering human intelligence in ways that would have been inconceivable…. except possibly to writers of science fiction.

In an essay “Three Cognitive Dimensions for Tracking Deep Learning Progress,” Carlos Perez describes the concept of AGI—self-aware sentient automation.    He goes on to delineate three forms of artificial intelligence. The autonomous dimension reflects the adaptive intelligence found in biological organisms (akin to learning by neural networks). The computation dimension involves the decision making capabilities that we find in computers as well as in humans (akin to symbol manipulation). And the social dimension involves the tools required for interacting with other agents (animate or mechanical)—here Perez specifically mentions language, conventions, and culture.

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Source: https://arxiv.org/abs/1705.11190

These three forms of artificial intelligence may well be distinct. But it is also possible they may confound function—what a system is trying to accomplish—and mechanism—how the system goes about accomplishing the task. For instance, computation involves decision making—but decision making can occur through neural networks, even when intuition suggests that it is occurring via the manipulation of symbols. By the same token, the autonomous intelligence features adaptation, which does not necessarily involve neural networks. I may be missing something—but in any case, some clarification on the nature of these three forms, and how we determine which is at work (or in play), would be helpful.

Returning to the topic at hand, Perez suggests that these three dimensions map variously onto the multiple intelligences.  On his delineation, spatial and logical intelligences align with the computational dimension; verbal and intrapersonal intelligences align with the social dimension; and, finally, the bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic, rhythmic-musical, and interpersonal intelligences map onto the autonomous dimension.

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Source: https://medium.com/intuitionmachine/deep-learning-system-zero-intuition-and-rationality-c07bd134dbfb

I would not have done the mapping in the same way. For example, language and music seem to me to fall under the computational dimension. But I applaud the effort to conceive of the different forms of thinking that might be involved as one attempts to account for the range of capacities of human beings (and, increasingly. other intelligent entities)  that must accomplish three tasks: carry out their own operations by the  available means; evolve in light of biological and other physical forces; and interact flexibly with other agents in a cultural setting. I hope that other researchers will join this timely effort.

I thank Jim Gray and David Perkins for their helpful comments.

To see the complete article by Carlos E. Perez, please click here: https://medium.com/intuitionmachine/deep-learning-system-zero-intuition-and-rationality-c07bd134dbfb

MI Theory Featured in Zimbabwean News

In an article featured on AllAfrica.com, an African online news source, on September 13, 2016, Zimbabwean author David Mungoshi writes about MI theory in relation to several esteemed Zimbabwean figures. This feature marks an exciting expansion in the reach of MI theory, as it is the first time MI has been featured in press in an African nation.

In the article, Mungoshi urges parents and teachers to consider MI theory as a resource to help guide their students and children to their dominant intelligences. He cites Kirsty Coventry, Olympic gold-medalist swimmer, and Charles Manyuchi, Silver Class World Boxing Champion, as examples of Zimbabweans who have honed their dominant intelligences to bring success and fame not only to themselves, but also to their country.

To read the article in full, visit the following website: http://allafrica.com/stories/201609130359.html

Could “Green” Hospitals Encourage Naturalist Intelligence in Children?

An article, published in October 2016 in the Boston Globe, discusses Dr. Ann-Christine Duhaime’s campaign to increase greenery in Mass General’s Pediatric facilities.

Howard Gardner commented on this idea, saying:

“This article caught my eye. A pediatrician at major teaching hospital is attempting to instill nature into the hospitalization appearance. This will be done by setting up an atrium rich in flora. She hopes both to provide an appealing and calming milieu and to increase the young children’s sensitivity to their natural environment—and the threats posed by climate change.

As one who has posited the existence of a ‘naturalist intelligence’, I find this plan appealing. To be sure, we do not activate an intelligence simply by providing its components;  it’s important to have activities and exercises that develop discrimination, skills, and ultimately knowledge. But there is a long evolutionary history of human beings exploring nature so this immersion should not be difficult. In fact, it’s only in recent centuries that most human beings have moved away from rural areas, filled with plants and animals, to cities, where the experience of nature is mostly second hand.

One advantage of enhancing naturalist intelligence is that it does not simply operate with nature. Much of our consumer society as well as many of our artistic and scientific environments call for fine discrimination and careful classification. And so, the development of naturalist intelligence can have benefits for other spheres of life.”

A link to the article is available here via the Boston Globe.

Howard Gardner’s Interview with Tiching Blog Featured In Spanish Book, “Hablamos de Educación”

In 2013, Howard Gardner was interviewed by the Spanish website, tiching.com.

Recently, this blog appeared in the Spanish education book, ”Hablamos de Educación”, or “Let’s Talk About Education”. Pages from the book featuring the interview can be found below, along with an English translation.

All around the world, the MI Theory continues to have an impact on education.

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2013 Interview with Tiching.com, English translation. This interview appeared in Spanish in its entirety in 2013 on blog.tiching.com. 

Tiching: Your Multiple Intelligences Theory is known around the world, but how can you define the term “intelligence”?

Howard Gardner: An intelligence is the biological and psychological potential to analyze information in specific ways, in order to solve problems or to create products that are valued in a culture.

T: Your Theory explains that exist eight different intelligences. Do we have all the intelligences in various grades or each person has only one type of intelligence?

HG: As implied by the definition, I reject the notion that human beings have a single intelligence, which can be drawn on for the full range of problem solving.  What is usually called ‘intelligence’ refers to the linguistic and logical capacities that are valued in certain kinds of school and for certain school-like tasks.  It leaves little if any room for spatial intelligence, personal intelligences, musical intelligence etc.

All human beings have all of the intelligences. But we differ, for both genetic and experiential reasons, in our profile of intelligences at any moment.  We can enhance our intelligences, but I am never going to become Yo-Yo Ma, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, or Pele, the soccer player.

T: We attended your Conference in Montserrat College and you talked about two new intelligences that you want to introduce (pedagogical and spiritual). How has this issue advanced?

HG: In order for me to ‘endorse’ an intelligence, I need to carry out lots of research.  I have had not had the time to research ‘teaching intelligence’ and that the survey I conducted years ago of ‘existential intelligence’ left me uncertain about whether it is a full-blown intelligence.  Yet I use these terms informally and anyone else is welcome to do so as well.

T: Which criteria do you use in order to include a new type of intelligence in your theory?

HG: My eight criteria for an intelligence are laid out in chapter 4 of my 1983 book FRAMES OF MIND.  These criteria are drawn from several disciplines and several kinds of populations.  There is not a single foolproof equation for determining whether a candidate intelligence does or does not qualify. I weigh the various considerations and make the best judgment I can. My guess is that ‘teaching intelligence’ and ‘existential intelligence’ would do pretty well on the 8 criteria: but as I’ve said, I have not been able to do the required research to be confident about my conclusion.

T: Do you think you will include more types of intelligence in the future?

HG: Only in a speculative manner.  My colleague Antonio Battro has written about a ‘digital intelligence’ and that is certainly worth thinking about.  However, at present, what he calls ‘digital intelligence’ seems adequately accounted for by logical-mathematical and bodily-kinesthetic intelligence—the skills of coding and of manipulating a mouse and/or a cursor.

T: You are working on Oasis Project, what are its objectives?

HG: This is a website, which will be launched in the summer of 2013  multipleintelligencesoasis.org  It represents my effort to describe MI theory, to highlight powerful applications, and to point out problematic assertions—hence the image of an oasis (water in the middle of a parched desert). At first it will only be an English but I’d be delighted if we could find a way to produce a high quality version in Spanish.

T: Most of the members of our community are teachers, how can they identify the intelligence of their pupils?

HG: When speaking to parents, I encourage them to take their child(ren) to a children’s museum and watch carefully what the child does, how she/she does it, what he/she returns to, where there is definite growth.  Teachers could do the same or could set up ‘play areas’ which provide ‘nutrition’ for different intelligences… and watch carefully what happens and what does not happen with each child.

When a child is thriving, there is no reason to spend time assessing intelligences. But when a child is NOT thriving—in school or at home—that is the time to apply the lens of multiple intelligences and see whether one can find ways to help the child thrive in different environments.

T: Once intelligences are identified, how can they be enhanced? Are empowerment mechanisms different for each type of intelligence?

HG: Intelligences are enhanced when a person engaged in activities that involve the exercise of that intelligence. It helps to have good teachers, ample resources, and personal motivation.  Anyone can improve any intelligence; but it is easier to improve the intelligence if those factors are available and if you have high potential in that intelligence.

T: Should school curriculums be rethinked in order to enhance all the intelligences? If yes, what should be transformed?

HG: I don’t think that it is necessary to rethink curricular goals. But it is certainly worth thinking about whether these goals can be reached in multiple ways. I think that any important educational goal can be realized via several routes.  In Chapter 7-9 of my 1999 book THE DISCIPLINED MIND, I show how to teach important lessons in science, history, and music, through alternative intelligences routes.

T: Which is the importance of new technologies, such as Tiching, in the learning process of each pupil?

HG: Any good teacher should become acquainted with relevant technologies. But the technologies should not dictate an education goal. Rather, the teacher (or parent or student or policy maker) should ask: can technology help to achieve this goal, and which technologies are most likely to be helpful?

T: Which is the intelligence that you have more developed?

HG: I think that I am strongest in linguistic and musical intelligence, and I continue to work on my interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.

T: In which project/s are you working on now?

HG: For the last twenty years, I have been engaged in the GoodWork Project, a study of how professions survive in a time when markets are very powerful. The GWP now has many offshoots- which you can read about at thegoodproject.org. With Richard Light, a close colleague, I am starting a study of Liberal arts and sciences in the 21st century.  We want to understand how best to create and preserve a form of higher education that we value but that is in jeopardy for many reasons.

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Guest Blog Series: Multiple Intelligences in Music

This past month we received two guest blog entries regarding the use of Multiple Intelligences Theory in music. As such, we’ve decided to publish them back to back, in a sort of series. The first of these blogs is written by Dr. Clive Harrison of the University of Newcastle in Australia.

It’s a pleasure to read this contribution. I’ve not thought much about song writing and have been intrigued that some individuals start to write song and lyrics while still children—they seem ‘called’ to this pursuit.  Clive Harrison shows vividly that good song writers draw on  range of intelligences and that naturalistic intelligence looms surprisingly large in their song-writing quiver.  Of course, listening to songs is a quite separate endeavor—and I wonder whether listeners draw on different intelligences as they choose and then listen repeatedly to their favorite songs. As I consider how we relate to sung music—listening to the lyrics, dancing, doddling, day dreaming—I realize that this activity is also one that can activate multiple intelligences.

In this week’s blog, Dr. Harrison discusses how multiple intelligences can be applied to understanding songwriting practice.

Click here to read Part II of the series about MI increasing the engagement and success of music students, and click here for Part III about Edgar Willems’ teaching system in combination with MI.

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The Songwriting Coalface: Where Multiple Intelligences Collide

Dr. Clive Harrison

How do great songwriters keep coming up with those wonderful songs?

While designing tertiary songwriting courses some years ago, I realized that songwriters need a different range of capacities to other (instrumental) composition students – the most obvious being good linguistic skills (to create the necessary lyrics). At my college of 65 music lecturers, I was the only one delivering course materials covering linguistic/verbal skills, and I suspected that there was more to the craft than many of them realized (I heard comments like “anyone can write songs”, “you either have it or you haven’t”, and “I’ve never written songs, but teaching it would be a piece of cake”.

As someone who has ridden the songwriting roller-coaster from utter rejection to worldwide success (and fortunately some enormous royalty cheques), I know the challenge that successful songwriting presents. And for the purposes of designing an effective songwriting course, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (1983) provides a ‘useful fiction’ (his term); an excellent ‘fit’ that can be usefully mapped into songwriting practice and education.

Mapping MI theory into songwriting practice

It would appear self-evident that songwriters would need adequate musical/aural skills, verbal/linguistic skills for penning lyrics, and the bodily/kinesthetic skills necessary to perform on an instrument and/or sing the song (while the last may not be mandatory, it is a great asset). Furthermore, excellent logic/mathematical skills make possible a computer/technological methodology for creating songs and recording them ‘in the box’ (typically a laptop), and even those who lack an appealing melodic singing voice can speak their lyrics and artificially create melody using Autotune © or Melodyne © software. While it could be argued that visual/spatial capacity is not so obviously required (songs being auditory in nature), it is worth noting that they songwriters do employ visualization extensively in their lyric-writing and spatial skills when mixing tracks as they create an aural ‘space’ for the song to reside in.

Less obvious perhaps than the first five stated, are the two capacities Gardner categorizes as inter- and intra-personal intelligences. Songwriters often fulfill a cultural role as contemporary ‘bards’, relating tales of broken, mended, desirable, undesirable relationships, life experiences and situations and conflict resolution. It is not surprising then that inter-personal skills inform insightful and valued lyric writing. Once accepted into the cultural domain, faithful followers grant the songwriters a licence to speak on their behalf through song – as a genre-specific authority, advocate or representative. Intra-personal intelligence facilitating perception, self-reflection, self-analysis, reasoning and rumination, rounds out the seven capacities and provides a lens through which useful observations can be presented through song.

An unexpected conclusion.

Having covered the initial seven intelligences described in Frames of Mind (1983), I then considered the eighth – naturalistic intelligence (introduced by Gardner in Creating Minds, 1993) – to see if it was a good ‘fit’ for the songwriting process as I have experienced it over the years. My first impressions were that a Darwinian ability to identify species in nature was too remote to be relevant and useful for teaching songwriting to university students. However, as I delved deeper into songwriting research and andragogy (teaching adults), I noticed that the ‘Big-C’ creators in the songwriting realm (those who created significant works) seemed to know what to write, and when to write it.

As a session musician, I have been lucky to have worked with a wide range of songwriters (98 record albums at last count), and I can say that the very best seem to have a special ‘knack’ for making outstanding songwriting choices – ones that seemed to resonate with their specific audience, at a specific time. The exemplars in the field always seemed to have a kind of ‘musical radar’ as to what would work and what wouldn’t. On reflection, it hit me that what they had in abundance (that mortal ‘Pro-c’ creative professional songwriters had only in moderation) was an ability to recognize subtly different song ‘species’. They possessed, somehow, a musical version of naturalistic intelligence that allowed them to notice what others didn’t; a vocal nuance here, a subtle internal rhyme there, a softening of the arrangement density, an unusual but evocative choice of bass-note, or a microscopic tempo shift.

But I observed there were even more Darwinian aspects to the Big-C creative songwriter’s toolkit.

Beyond just noticing the finest of detail in the songs they listened to, wrote, recorded and performed, these exemplars of the songwriting realm were also observing at once the cultural and sub-cultural rise and fall of genres, sub-genres, trends and patterns in songs and songwriting craft. Not only were they aware of what was likely to be embraced by the listening audience right now, they were conscious of the waxing and waning of style as songs ‘survived or became extinct’, as it were.

Naturalistic intelligence in the songwriting domain

Their naturalistic capacity then (applied to the domain of songwriting), gave them an advantage; that of discriminant pattern recognition. Rather than recognize natural phenomena like cloud formations, bird beaks, and survival of the fittest life forms, these masterful songwriters recognized the social phenomena in the evolution of song formations, lyric trends, and survival of the most resonant song forms. They could discriminately make ‘intuitive’ selections from innumerable song choices, based on patterns recognized, observed and absorbed, and they would apply that expert algorithm to their songwriting craft.

It should be stated, however, that such ability does not ever guarantee success – it merely increases their chances of audience acceptance, and promotes industry confidence. The probability of audience acceptance combined with industry confidence considerably influences the field of intermediaries described in the Systems Model of Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988) and predisposes them to select the song for inclusion as a worthy addition to the cultural domain.

So songwriters engage in all eight multiple intelligences, and the very best songwriters have the naturalistic intelligence to stand above the rest. This mapping of MI theory into songwriting practice may explain why Neil Finn chose a Csus2 chord to open Don’t Dream It’s Over, why Paul McCartney wrote Yesterday with a seven bar structure, and why Gotye had Kimbra sing the third verse and bridge of Somebody I Used to Know – they simply observed important nuances, trends and patterns that the rest of us missed.

 Dr. Clive Harrison is a renowned session musician, composer, songwriter and music author based in Sydney, Australia. A former President of the Australian Guild of Screen Composers, his career spans 46 years, and he currently lectures in contemporary music performance, songwriting, composition and recording. 

The Neuroscience of Intelligences

When the theory of multiple intelligences was proposed thirty five years ago, I drew on evidence from a number of different disciplines and fields.  By far the most dramatic source of evidence emanated from studies of brain functioning.  I had worked for years in a neurological clinic. In that setting, I had the opportunity both to observe individuals who had an ability destroyed, or spared, in isolation; and through the instrumentation of CT scans, to determine which areas of the brain had been destroyed or spared in cases of specific deficits or preserved strengths. If anything set apart my theory from that of other theories of intelligence, it was the culling of information about the brain basis and loci of specific intellectual capacities.

In the intervening years, far more sophisticated measures of brain activity are available, several ‘in vivo’.  Through PET scans, MRI, and other measures, we have far more detailed and specific information about brain involvement in various cognitive activities.

Taking advantage of these new measures, Branton Shearer and Jessica Karnian have carried out a very intriguing study. They have examined the cognitive neuroscience literature to find references to activities associated with each of the several intelligences; and then they have gathered the information in a paper “The Neuroscience of Intelligences: Empirical Support for the Theory of Multiple Intelligences”. The paper was presented recently at the annual meeting of the International Mind Brain and Education Society in Toronto.

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As the authors interpret the data, the large body of literature provides support for the validity of MI theory.  Obviously this conclusion pleases me.  But more important than a confirmation of specific claims is the re-opening of the question of neural bases for different cognitive activities, and how that evidence relates to claims about “general” intelligence.  All scientists understand that their particular claims are likely to be modified;  we hope to have contributed a significant element to our emerging understandings. Below, please find a set of slides describing their study. Click on the images to enlarge them.

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Specialization in the SAT: The Math Portion Should Only Test Math Skills

Standard tests of scholarship (including IQ tests) typically tap linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. In fact, students who are strong in these intelligences are likely to do well on tests, and in school. As long as they stay in school, they will think they are smart!

We now know that at the extremes of abilities, linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence are quite distinct.

In other words, having high linguistic intelligence does not predict high logical mathematical intelligence or vice versa.

As this article points out, it is very important not to confound these two forms of intelligence.  Accordingly, tests of mathematical intelligence are not reliable if they require linguistic sophistication.

If we feel the need to test for individual intelligences, we should make sure that we do so in as ‘pure’ a form as possible.