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 The issue features eight research articles related to the theory of multiple intelligences, including a previously unpublished address Howard Gardner delivered upon receiving an honorary degree from José Cela University in Madrid, Spain, and the Prince of Asturias Prize for Social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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Click here to read more about the issue:

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:


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.



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.



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.



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:

Howard Gardner Takes an MI Perspective on General Intelligence

In a paper titled, “The evolution of general intelligence,” published by Cambridge University Press, three professors from the University of Zurich, Dr. Judith M. Burkart, Dr. Michèle N. Schubiger, and Dr. Carel P. van Schaik, take an anthropological perspective on general intelligence.

Howard Gardner responds, in an open peer commentary, with an MI perspective.

Read both abstracts below:

“The evolution of general intelligence”:

The presence of general intelligence poses a major evolutionary puzzle, which has led to increased interest in its presence in nonhuman animals. The aim of this review is to critically evaluate this question and to explore the implications for current theories about the evolution of cognition. We first review domain-general and domain-specific accounts of human cognition in order to situate attempts to identify general intelligence in nonhuman animals. Recent studies are consistent with the presence of general intelligence in mammals (rodents and primates). However, the interpretation of a psychometric g factor as general intelligence needs to be validated, in particular in primates, and we propose a range of such tests. We then evaluate the implications of general intelligence in nonhuman animals for current theories about its evolution and find support for the cultural intelligence approach, which stresses the critical importance of social inputs during the ontogenetic construction of survival-relevant skills. The presence of general intelligence in nonhumans implies that modular abilities can arise in two ways, primarily through automatic development with fixed content and secondarily through learning and automatization with more variable content. The currently best-supported model, for humans and nonhuman vertebrates alike, thus construes the mind as a mix of skills based on primary and secondary modules. The relative importance of these two components is expected to vary widely among species, and we formulate tests to quantify their strength.

“Taking a multiple intelligences (MI) perspective”:

The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) seeks to describe and encompass the range of human cognitive capacities. In challenging the concept of general intelligence, we can apply an MI perspective that may provide a more useful approach to cognitive differences within and across species.

Read the full paper and peer commentary at the following site:

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

In 2013, Howard Gardner was interviewed by the Spanish website,

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.


2013 Interview with, English translation. This interview appeared in Spanish in its entirety in 2013 on 

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  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 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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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.








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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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.


Stay Up to Date with the ASCD Multiple Intelligences Network Newsletter

The ASCD releases a publication through the Multiple Intelligences Network  on a periodic basis that serves as an excellent resource for MI enthusiasts. Readers are kept up to date on new developments in MI, MI research, uses of MI in the classroom, and even the occasional guest post from Howard Gardner. If interested, contact editor Tom Hoerr at or

To view this month’s newsletter, click here.




Howard Gardner Comments on an Essay by Thomas Hoerr

This month’s edition of the ASCD publication Educational Leadership covers topics dealing with “Learning for Life”. In his featured essay, “Principal Connection/Multiple Ways to Learn”, Thomas R. Hoerr discusses intelligence, communication, multiple intelligences, and the recent passage of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA).

Like Tom Hoerr, I am pleased whenever, as an educator, I encounter the modifier ‘multiple’.  And when the White House endorses ‘multiple measures’ of student learning and ‘other indicators of student success’, I feel that our work and our words over many years may finally be gaining some traction.

That said, as always, the importance lies in the details. For example, Mark Zuckerberg has now pledged a significant amount of his fortune to pursuing ‘personalized learning.”  But the modifier ‘personalized’ could range from simply varying the speed at which items are presented to teaching via topics that interest the learner.  By the same token, ‘multiple” could simply mean administering a number of standardized tests; or offering open-ended as well as multiple choice options;  or providing rich contexts with embedded challenges and noting how well students work individually or in groups.

Still, not to end on a downer, multiple measures are certainly preferable to a single test—which almost always means ‘the latest from ETS’.

For further reference, the original text of Thomas Hoerr’s essay can be found below.


Principal Connection / Multiple Ways to Learn

Thomas R. Hoerr

How important is it that every student in a school is excited about learning? Should we allow a student to use all her strengths in learning? Do you know someone who wasn’t a particularly good student but has been very successful in life?

What these seemingly unrelated questions have in common is an appreciation for the range of talents that students—that all of us, really—possess. Answering them leads us to the theory of multiple intelligences (MI) conceived by Howard Gardner.1  My school began implementing MI in 1988. MI was not a panacea, but our school was filled with students and teachers who were excited about learning. And over the next decade-plus, hundreds of educators visited us each year to see how they could use MI to help more children learn and to help children learn more.

Then in 2001, No Child Left Behind was passed, and it became harder for teachers and principals to use multiple intelligences. Students’ skills in the three Rs, determined by scores on standardized tests, became the measure of teacher and principal effectiveness. Educators knew the scores weren’t all that mattered, but they also knew scores were what mattered most. In 2009, Race to the Top widened the path—but not by much.The recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) appears to be a step in the right direction. The White House notes that 

the bill encourages a smarter approach to testing by moving away from a sole focus on standardized tests to drive decisions around the quality of schools, and by allowing for the use of multiple measures of student learning and progress, along with other indicators of student success to make school accountability decisions.2  

I’m encouraged by ESSA, but I’m also hesitant. “Multiple measures” sounds good, but it will be hard to back away from the ease and objectivity of standardized measures. Failing to do so would be our loss—and a loss for our students.Intelligence is problem solving, and many problems are best solved by using a combination of intelligences. In schools, we typically limit students to using the scholastic intelligences—linguistic and logical-mathematical. Employing the musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, naturalist, intrapersonal, or interpersonal intelligences isn’t encouraged as an option. That’s unfortunate because these nonscholastic intelligences are integral to solving many of the problems we face every day.

Communication in the real world travels through many intelligences. The written word is only one way to describe events or relay messages. Often messages come to us through music, art, animation, or artifacts—so why not enable students to use these intelligences to share what they’ve learned?

At my school, for example, students read about the U.S. Civil War. But they also watch videos, access museum websites, touch artifacts, and visit nearby relevant locations. And although they take tests and write reports, they also build dioramas, draw timelines, develop plays with characters presenting differing points of view, and create poems or music that capture the times and tensions of that era.Likewise, in studying citizens who have made a difference in their community or the world, our students read about and write biographies of famous people. But they also use other intelligences for learning and sharing their knowledge. During Living Museum Day, they make presentations while dressed in costumes they created. Students from other classes, parents, and educators come to the “museum” (our library) to hear the oral presentations and then ask questions of Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy, Michelangelo, or Mia Hamm. Preparing to present in the museum requires students to do research, write a report, make a costume, create an artifact, give an oral presentation, and respond to audience questions. No child fails at the Living Museum. Every student is excited about learning and uses different intelligences to show what he or she has learned.We value all intelligences at New City School, but we give a special focus to the personal intelligences because we believe that who you are is more important than what you know. The first page of every student’s report card focuses solely on the personal intelligences—interpersonal (understanding others) and intrapersonal (knowing yourself). That emphasis is also reflected throughout our curriculum. Teachers are always on the lookout for ways to help children develop kindness, an appreciation for others, and grit.

My fingers are crossed that ESSA will allow us to return to using multiple intelligences to help students learn. How could you help your teachers use MI to increase student learning?


1  Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. New York: Basic Books.

2  Muñoz, C. (2015, December 7). Q&A: What you need to know about the fix to No Child Left Behind [blog post]. Retrieved from The White House Blog.

Thomas R. Hoerr is emeritus head of school at the New City School in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the author of Becoming a Multiple Intelligences School (ASCD, 2000) and Fostering Grit: How Do I Prepare My Students for the Real World? (ASCD, 2013). Follow him on Twitter.

Howard Gardner Interviewed by Esther Cepeda Regarding Learning Styles

In November, Howard Gardner was interviewed by journalist Esther Cepeda regarding his views on ‘learning styles’. Below is the final result of that interview.

The original post can be read here.


Esther Cepeda: Teachers must let go of the ‘learning styles’ myth

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The education industry is nothing if not trend-driven, and sometimes fads manage to calcify into indisputable “facts” that spur backlash when challenged.

Take the mini-revolt over the recent boomlet of myth-busting news articles about “learning styles,” the theory that some people learn better through movement, others through reading or listening and so on.

Just post links to Quartz’s “The concept of different ‘learning styles’ is one of the greatest neuroscience myths” or New York Magazine’s “One Reason the ‘Learning Styles’ Myth Persists” on your Facebook timeline and watch otherwise gentle, openhearted educators descend into bitter disputes about the challenges of being an auditory learner in a text-rich society.

My first brush with the “learning styles” credo was in a graduate-level education program that promoted it as an article of faith for any new teacher.

A decade later, not teaching for different learning styles is considered akin to educational malpractice. Some educators believe that not presenting every concept to students in each of the many styles—kinesthetic, visual, auditory—is nothing short of bigotry because it discriminates against those who don’t learn in “traditional” ways.

Students have internalized this responsibility-absolving mantra through the years. I spent this past fall semester in a music theory course at my local community college with young adults who unfailingly challenged our professor’s classroom instruction, homework and tests with “learning style” complaints.

If we were doing aural training, someone would whine about being a visual learner. The written tests were “too hard” for the kinesthetic learners because they weren’t good at writing on paper, and so on. It was ridiculous—we were, after all, in a music class where reading, writing and listening to music were required, and had been clearly articulated in the course description.

I’m too jaded about how tenaciously educators cling to their dogmas to believe that the overemphasis on differentiated learning styles will soon recede from practice. The “everybody’s special” ethos of teacher education tends to treat the “learning styles” theory as though a student’s preferred method of processing new information automatically makes him or her incapable of learning through any other means. It is heartening to see attempts at dismantling the legend.

“Over and over, researchers have failed to find any substantive evidence for the notion of learning styles, to the point where it’s been designated a ‘neuromyth’ by some education and psychology experts,” writes Jesse Singal in a recent issue of New York Magazine.

The reason the myth lives on, according to Christian Jarrett in Wired magazine, is the educational-industrial complex.

“It is propagated not only in hundreds of popular books,” Jarrett wrote, “but also through international conferences and associations, by commercial companies who sell ways of measuring learning styles, and in teacher-training programs.”

Howard Gardner, who over 30 years ago did groundbreaking research on the notion of multiple intelligences—which include logical-mathematical, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal, spatial and others, which all work in concert—has gone out of his way to differentiate his work from the shorthand of “learning styles.”

On The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, Gardner wrote, “If people want to talk about ‘an impulsive style’ or ‘a visual learner,’ that’s their prerogative. But they should recognize that these labels may be unhelpful, at best, and ill-conceived at worst.”

When I spoke to Gardner about the danger of using his research and the now-ubiquitous “learning styles” as a crutch for students or an excuse for teachers to not push students to perform up to their potential, he said: “I’m against uniform schools. And everybody’s got his or her own way of learning, but we’re not going to expect all schools to accommodate them all.

“There has to be a middle ground. We don’t want to make every student learn in the same way, but we also don’t want to encourage students to not have to stretch out of their comfort zone and show some grit. The way I would put it is that kids should get as much help as they need to learn, but not one whit more.”

Teachers are well meaning, but buying into the “learning styles” myth has not been definitively shown to improve educational outcomes. So let it die already. Rather than waste valuable time trying to cater to every possible learning preference, teachers would do better to help all students develop a full range of skills and competencies.


Esther J. Cepeda is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group. Her email address is Follow her on Twitter, @estherjcepeda.

This article originally appeared on