Contrasting Views of Human Behavior and Human Mind: An Epistemological Drama in Five Acts

Introduction

The theory of multiple intelligences emerged at the time when psychology was taking a sharp turn toward the cognitive scientific approach. And a major player in the ‘cognitive revolution’ was the linguist Noam Chomsky. Among many other contributions, Chomsky thought of the ‘language faculty’ as a kind of computer, and that metaphor affected my thinking. Also, Chomsky thought that the mind consisted of various ‘mental modules’, and has over the years been sympathetic to “MI theory”.

Those critiqued by Chomsky, by other cognitivists, and by me have scarcely been silenced. As a way of conveying a bitter scholarly struggle, whose remnants are still visible today, I present here a lively debate in five acts.

Contrasting Views of Human Behavior and Human Mind: An Epistemological Drama in Five Acts

Last month, I received an unexpected communication from Dr. Henry (Hank) Schlinger, a scholar whom I did not know. As he pointed out, this was a somewhat delayed communication, since it referred to an article of mine written quite some time ago.

In his note to me, Dr. Schlinger argued that I had been mistaken in my assertion that his brand of psychology—called behaviorism—has been discredited and that another brand of psychology—called cognitive psychology—had taken its place. And he took issue with the way in which I had dramatized this process—I had dubbed the change “the cognitive revolution”—and personalized it, citing the work of linguist Noam Chomsky as being a principal factor in challenging the behaviorist account of ‘verbal behavior” put forth by B.F. Skinner, a well-known psychologist.

After some reflection, I decided both to respond to Dr. Schlinger and to share the correspondence with Noam Chomsky, whom I have known for many years. (I also knew “Fred” Skinner, who was a neighbor, and who befriended my young son, Benjamin, with whom he walked around the neighborhood.) Chomsky responded and, with this permission, I quote his response here.

There ensued one more round of letters. I reproduce the exchange here. I would like to think that it is an example of how scholars can disagree profoundly but do so in a respectful way. I thank both Hank Schlinger and Noam Chomsky for their cooperation.

Act I Opening Foray from Hank Schlinger

Dear Professor Gardner,

I know I’m a bit late to the game, but I just read your article “Green ideas sleeping furiously” (1995), and I have the following comments.

In your article, you said the following:

“Chomsky’s review of Verbal Behavior was a major event in the movement that was to topple behaviorism and itself become a new orthodoxy,” and “His own research, however, was quite specifically grounded in linguistics and took a decidedly unusual perspective on human language”

As for Chomsky’s research, I’m curious what you’re referring to because I just looked at all the articles he lists on his CV and didn’t see one research article; that is, no experiments.

As to Chomsky’s review toppling behaviorism, I find that curious too because I’m a radical behaviorist and the last time I looked, I’m still here and teaching behavior analysis classes at my university. And there are thousands of other behavior analysts like me all over the world who belong to numerous professional organizations and who publish in journals devoted to the experimental, conceptual, and applied analysis of behavior.

As to the new orthodoxy, again I’m curious what that was or is. It certainly wasn’t Chomsky’s “theory” of 1957, because that “theory” is gone and his positions have changed with the intellectual wind as one would expect of a non-experimental, rationalist.

As I wrote in 2008 on the 50th anniversary of Skinner’s book:

It seems absurd to suggest that a book review could cause a paradigmatic revolution or wreak all the havoc that Chomsky’s review is said to have caused to Verbal Behavior or to behavioral psychology. To dismiss a natural science (the experimental analysis of behavior) and a theoretical account of an important subject matter that was 23 years in the writing by arguably the most eminent scientist in that discipline based on one book review is probably without precedent in the history of science. 

To sum up the logical argument against Chomsky’s “review” of Skinner’s book Verbal Behavior in a rather pithy statement, a neuroscientist at Florida State University once asked rhetorically, “What experiment did Chomsky do?”

And for all of Chomsky’s and your diatribes against Skinner, his book, and the science he helped to foster, his book has been selling better than ever and is now being used as the basis of language training programs all over the world for individuals with language delays and deficits.

Science doesn’t proceed by rational argument, but by experimentation. The experimental foundation of behavior analysis is without precedent in psychology and the principles derived therefrom not only parsimoniously explain a wide range of human behaviors—yes, including language—but they have been used successfully to ameliorate behavioral problems in populations ranging from people diagnosed with autism to business and industry. And what have Chomsky’s “theories” enabled us to do?

I would say that the proof is in the pudding. The fact that some psychologists have not been convinced says a lot about them, but nothing about the pudding.

In case you’re interested, I’ve attached a couple of articles that bear on the subject. You might also want to check out this relevant article:

Andresen, J. T. (1990). Skinner and Chomsky 30 years later. Or: The return of the repressed. Historiographia Linguistica, 17,(1-2), 145 –165.

Sincerely,

Hank Schlinger

***

Act II Howard Gardner responds

Dear Dr. Schlinger,

I appreciate your taking the time to write to me.

Clearly, we have very different views of science. As I understand it, for you science is totally experimental and good science has to change the world, hopefully in a positive direction.

I have a much more capacious view of science—going back to its original etymology as ‘knowledge’. There are many ways to know the world and that includes many forms of science. Much of Einstein’s work was totally theoretical; Darwin’s work was primarily observational and conceptual; whole fields like astronomy (including cosmology), geology, and evolutionary biology do not and often cannot carry out experiments.

An even more fundamental difference: I basically accept Thomas Kuhn’s argument, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that the big changes in science involve the adoption of fundamentally different questions and even fundamentally different views of the world. Physics in Aristotle’s time turns out to have been a wholly different enterprise than it was for Newton; Einstein, and then quantum mechanics entailed paradigm shifts again. A similar evolution/revolution occurred in other fields, ranging from biology to geology.

In the field that we both know—psychology—there were what are often called mini-paradigm shifts from the associationism and structural-functionalism of the nineteenth century to the behaviorism of the early decades of the 20th century, to the cognitive revolution (which I chronicled in The Mind’s New Science,) and now-again—the emergence of cognitive neurosciences, including psychology.

These paradigm shifts occur for many reasons—and the shifts are not all progressive—but they affect what promising younger scientists (whether theoretically or empirically oriented) consider to be questions/ problems worth investigating and how they proceed to investigate them.

It’s in this spirit, and on the basis of this analysis, that I, and many others, claim that over the last several decades, the behaviorist approach was replaced by a cognitive approach to psychological (and related) issues and questions. Neither Skinner nor Chomsky caused this change; but they serve as convenient ‘stand ins’ for a process that involved many scientists doing many kinds of theoretical and empirical work in many societies.

Turning to your specific point, neither I (nor, I believe Chomsky) dismiss the belief that one can affect behavior by rewards and punishment. Indeed, nearly everyone in the world believes this—including the proverbial grandmothers. From our perspective, the behaviorist approach has two crippling difficulties:

l. When results come out differently than anticipated—for example, behavior changing for all time because of one positive or negative experience or behavior failing to change despite several experiences—then the analysis is simply reconfigured to account for the results. If a behavior changes, then it must have been reinforced. In that way, as with psychoanalysis, it becomes circular.

2. While the experimental analysis of behavior may explain certain aspects of verbal behavior, it leaves out what many of us consider to be the most interesting and important set of questions: what is language, how does it differ from other human processes and behaviors, how do we account for the universals of language as well as the speed and similarity with which languages are acquired, despite their superficial differences.

None of this should be seen as an indication that your own work is anachronistic or as a critique of the work per se—but it is a claim that the world of science moves on and that what was on center stage in the U.S. (and the Soviet Union) seventy years ago is now decidedly a side show.

I may post parts of our exchange on my website. Please let me know if you prefer to be identified or not.

Sincerely,

Howard

***

ACT III Communication from Noam Chomsky

Thanks for letting me see the exchange. I have a different view of what an experiment is. Take standard elicitation of the judgments about grammatical status and interpretation, e.g., the example that apparently troubled him: “colorless green ideas….”, “revolutionary new ideas…”, “furiously sleep ideas green colorless,” etc. – the kind of judgments that litter my papers and all papers on linguistics.\. Each is an experiment, in fact, the kind of experiment familiar for centuries in perceptual psychology. By now they have also been replicated very carefully by controlled experiments, eg., Jon Sprouse’s, which show that the judgments used as illustrations in standard texts have about 98% confirmation under carefully controlled experiment. Furthermore, there is experimental work of the kind that Schlinger would regard as experiment under his narrow view, in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics, confirming many of the conclusions drawn in theoretical work based on the usual kinds of (highly reliable) elicitation experiments. E.g., work showing crucially differential brain activity in invented languages that do or do not conform to deep linguistic universals.

In contrast, work in the Skinnerian paradigm has yielded essentially nothing involving language or other domains related to human (or even animal) higher mental processes. Or for that matter anywhere apart from extremely narrow conditions.

I always felt that the death-knell for Skinnerian (and indeed most) behaviorism was Lashley’s serial order paper, apparently ignored (as far as I could determine then, or have since) until I brought it up in my review. And the last nail in the coffin should have been Breland-Breland on instinctual drift. And shortly after a mass of work by others trained within that tradition: Brewer, Dulaney, by now too many others to mention.
Noam

***

ACT IV Hank Schlinger’s Further Comments

Dear Howard,

Again, thank you for your reply. I appreciate the opportunity to have this exchange. Below are my comments.

1. Yes, we have different views of science, but you misread my view. I do not think science is or should be totally experimental, but I do believe that the natural sciences—and you, or other psychologists, may not want to include psychology in that exclusive club (see below)—have proceeded first by experimentation, the results of which led to laws and then theories, which were used to understand and make predictions about novel phenomena. And, while the goal of science it not necessarily to change the world, the natural sciences, through experimentation, have enabled us to cure and prevent diseases, for example, and to develop technologies that have dramatically changed our world, in many instances, for the better.

1a. Einstein’s theoretical work was based on the experimental foundation of physics. And while much of Darwin’s work was observational, he also conducted experiments, and his thinking was informed by experimental biology.

1b. It is true, as you say, that astronomers, geologists, and evolutionary biologists in some cases may not be able to conduct experiments, though sometimes they do—and must. But their theoretical work is predicated on the discovery of laws through experimentation with things here on earth that are observable, measurable, and manipulable. Otherwise, they are no better than philosophers.

2. I know you have written about the so-called cognitive revolution; I have your book. I say, “so-called because one psychologist’s cognitive revolution is another psychologist’s cognitive resurgence (Greenwood, 1999), myth (Leahey, 1992), or even rhetorical device (O’Donohue & Ferguson, 2003). As Leahey (1992) points out, “But we need not assume that Kuhn is good philosophy of science, and instead rescue psychology from the Procrustean bed of Kuhnianism. His various theses have been roundly criticized (Suppe, 1977), and the trend in history and philosophy of science today, excepting Cohen, is toward emphasizing continuity and development instead of revolution.” (p. 316).

3. As for the claim by you and other cognitive revolution proponents that “the behaviorist approach was replaced by a cognitive approach to psychological (and related) issues and questions,” not all cognitive psychologists adhere to that position. The cognitive psychologist Roddy Roediger (2004) called it a “cartoon view of the history of psychology.” That, plus the frequent statements by cognitivists that Chomsky’s review of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior not only demolished the book but behaviorsm as well, remind me of the real fake news spewed by Fox News, and now Trump, that is accepted as truth because it is repeated so often. It’s a bit like saying that humans evolved from apes, ignoring that apes still exist. Yes, the predominant view among psychologists is a cognitive one, but it has always been the case. And, behavior analysis still exists. The idea that there ever was a behavioristic hegemony is absurd. Even some of the so-called behaviorists, such as Tolman and Hull, were barely indistinguishable from today’s cognitive psychologist.

4. Calling the results of decades of systematic experimentation—which by the way, is promoted in almost every introductory psychology textbook I have ever seen as the only method to discover cause and effect—on operant learning “rewards and punishment,” is like calling the centuries of experimental work which led to the theory gravity “apples falling from trees,” which “nearly everyone in the world believes …including the proverbial grandmothers.” That fails to appreciate or even understand what systematic experimentation contributes to our understanding and, yes, knowledge, of the world.

5. Your depiction of the “two crippling difficulties” of the behaviorist approach are simply caricatures created by cognitivists to justify the necessity of their (the cognitivists’) anachronistic, dualistic, view of psychology. Without providing references, your first difficulty remains an unsupported assertion. And, numerous behavior analysts, starting with Skinner himself, have dealt effectively with your second difficulty. The fact that cognitivists refuse to be convinced is the real issue.

6. Back to the beginning, we—and I mean you and I as stand-ins for cognitive and behavioral psychologists—do have different views of science. My science is importantly based on, but not limited to, experimentation. In other words, going back to Watson’s (1913) call to action, a natural science. Yours is apparently based mostly on reason and logic (a rationalist position, like Chomsky’s) and as Skinner once wrote (in a book apparently relegated to the historical trash heap by the cognitivist’s hero—Chomsky) about appealing to hypothetical cognitive constructs to explain language behavior, “There is obviously something suspicious in the ease with which we discover in a set of ideas precisely those properties needed to account for the behavior which expresses them. We evidently construct the ideas at will from the behavior to be explained. There is, of course, no real explanation” (p. 6). This, in a nutshell, is the weakness of the cognitive approach.

As an editor of a mainstream psychology journal recently said in reply to a colleague of mine who wrote in his submission that “if psychology is to be a natural science, then it has to study the actual behaivor of individual organisms,” “Why should psychology aspire to become a natural science? Psychology is a social science.”

This seems to be a (or the) critical difference between our respective disciplines.

Yours truly,

Hank

P.S. Here are a couple of more recent (than Kuhn) approaches to the philosophy of science.

Hull, D. L. (1988). Science as a process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hull, D. L. (2001). Science and selection: Essays on biological evolution and the philosophy of science. New York: Cambridge University Press.

———————————-

References

Greenwood, J. D. (1999). Understanding the cognitive revolution in psychology. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 35, 1-22.

Leahey, T. H. (1992). Mythical revolutions in the history of American psychology. American Psychologist, 47, 308-318.

O’Donohue, W., & Ferguson, K. E. (2003). The structure of the cognitive revolution: An examination from the philosophy of science. The Behavior Analyst, 26, 85-110.

Roediger, H. L. (2004). What happened to behaviorism? APS Observer (https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/what-happened-to-behaviorism)

***

ACT V Howard’s End…for this play…

Dear Hank,

Thanks for continuing our conversation. Here are some quick responses:

I. We do have different views of science but, in your recent note, you put forth a more reasonable perspective. You say that the natural sciences proceed from experimentation. I’d rather contend that science can proceed from observations, from experiments, from interesting ideas, and even from grand theories. The ‘conversation ‘ is continuous and can go in many directions.

II.On the nature of experiments, Noam Chomsky makes an important point. There is not a sharp line between observation, informal investigations and more formal experiments. When it comes to judgments of grammaticality, there is no reason for large subject masses, control groups, high power statistics. Almost all judgments are pretty clear—and in the few ambiguous cases can be investigated more systematically, if they is reason to do so . And of course, modern linguistic theory has generated thousands of experiments, reported in dozens of journals.

III. The most difficult question you raise is whether there has indeed been a revolution, and whether Kuhn’s formulation helps us to understand what happened as cognitivism moved center stage (to continue my dramaturgical metaphor) and behaviorism become a side show. There is no way to ‘test’ these propositions. The discipline that will eventually determine whether my account of the last century, or your account of the last century, is more accurate is intellectual history or the history of science.

Indeed, we can each quote many contemporary scholars and observers who support ‘our’ respective positions, but in the end, the judgments that                         matter will be made by history.

IV. That said, I don’t accept your contention that I am a rationalist and not an empiricist. The record does not support your contention (hundreds of empirical and experimental studies over almost five decades). In more recent years, I do think of my work as social science rather than natural science, but social science has empirical standards and measures as well, and I use them as rigorously as appropriate.

Best,

Howard

***

EPILOGUE:

With the fifth act completed, the curtain descends on our conversation…at least for now. But I’d be delighted if others who read the exchanges would join in.

 

MI Theory as Foundation for Children’s Learning Center in Hong Kong

A shopping mall in Hong Kong, called Discovery Park (D Park), has created a children’s educational facility based on the principals of MI theory. D Park aims to use its programs to teach parents and children in Hong Kong about the facets of MI theory and how to incorporate them into both their family and public education.

Keiko Ishiwata, President of Japan MI Society and lecturer at Yokohama National University, and Tomoe Fujimoto, Executive Director of Japan MI Society and President of Tomoe Soroban Co., Ltd., were invited to visit Discovery Park August 3rd to 6th, 2016 to give a presentation on MI Theory.

Below are photos from their presentation:

DOC000DOC002DOC005DOC006DOC007

 

For more information of D Park, visit their website at: https://www.dpark.com.hk/en/home.html

And to learn more about Japan MI Society, visit their website at: http://www.japanmi.com/ 

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.

MI Press: First Quarter of 2017

The theory of multiple intelligences continues to receive attention from disparate communities and corners of the globe as MI is seemingly discovered and applied anew. Thus far in 2017, we have become aware of several MI-themed articles that we wanted to share with our readers.

Many writers appear to be inspired by MI’s broad conception of human intellect, which takes into account abilities which are often not a component of formal education (such as interpersonal, interpersonal, and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences).

Click the links below to see what people are saying about MI in recent news!

 

Want to share more articles about MI or your own piece? Contact us or Tweet Howard Gardner @DrHowardGardner, and we can share your link.

MI and Habits of Mind in Arts Education

Howard Gardner and Ellen Winner discuss their respective research on multiple intelligences and arts education, as well as how these two lines of work fit together, in a newly-released short video.

Gardner is most known for the theory of multiple intelligences, a critique of the notion that humans have a single measurable intelligence, such as an IQ. Instead, the brain is analagous to a set of computers, each processing different information. His theory currently takes eight discrete intelligences into account. Explore the resources on this site to learn more.

Winner is supportive of arts education and has researched that realm extensively, coming to the conclusion that there is little evidence for claims that education in the arts improves overall test scores. Instead, the conversation around arts education should be changed, which she and her colleague Lois Hetland attempted to do by studying habits of mind in studio art classrooms.

In the video below, these two lines of work are explained and related to one another. Click to watch the full recording.

Guest Blog Series: Multiple Intelligences in Music, Part III

We recently received three guest blog entries regarding the use of Multiple Intelligences Theory in music education. The first, about MI and songwriting, is available by clicking here. The second, about how MI can have positive effects on engagement and success for music students, is available by clicking here.

In the third installment, printed below, Drs. Cecilia Martin Hoyos and Luis Ponce de León, researchers from Spain, outline a structure for music education combining Edgar Willems’ pedagogy with MI theory.

———————————————————————————————-

Multiple Intelligences and Edgar Willems’ approach to music education

By Dr. Cecilia Martín Hoyos and Dr. Luis Ponce de León

Do we want a well-rounded education for our children? Most any parent would most probably give an affirmative answer. This idea of a balanced, well-rounded education, where attention is paid to the child’s intellectual, social, sportive, artistic and humanistic development, is fully represented in Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983). Arts, and music in particular, have a fundamental role in artistic and humanistic development; but what if we had empirical evidence showing that music could have more than an aesthetic mission? What if music instruction had a positive effect on all intelligences?

As music teachers, inspired by Gardner’s theories, we have asked ourselves what it is about music and music instruction that helps children develop each and every intelligence. What happens in the music lesson that make students grow in so many different directions?

We have attempted to answer this question taking a specific approach to music education into account: Edgar Willems’ (1890-1978) music teaching system. Apart from the fact that Willems had a special significance in our own training as teachers, we decided to turn to his approach because of the detailed breakdown of music instruction that Willems and his followers, especially Jacques Chapuis (1926-2007), have published. Willems showed a profound knowledge of children and their developmental stages, finding links between the elements of music and the nature of the child.

Building bridges between music instruction and MI was our mission for several years. We will briefly share some of these relationships in the following paragraphs, hoping that they will provide food for thought and debate.

Willems’ teaching system

One of Edgar Willems’ main goals as a teacher was to design an approach to music education that would prove most beneficial to the development of the child, an approach that still has a significant impact in music education in several European and Latin American countries.

Willems’ concern was making parents and educators understand “the importance of music education, which, going beyond the apprenticeship of an instrument or music itself, has a direct influence on the principal faculties of the human being.” Willems offers a musical education accessible to all children, ideally from an early age. Through the joy of discovering the language of music one achieves sensory, affective and mental development, all this without needing to add “extra-musical” elements to the lesson, such as colors or stories.

So, how do MI relate to a Willems-based music lesson?

Linguistic Intelligence

Words often play a significant role in music and music education. When singing with words or playing with the rhythm of speech, our linguistic intelligences are obviously put to work. However, music is a language by itself, and even when words are absent in a Willems-based lesson, making and reacting to music can eventually help with the learning of other natural languages.

When children are asked to listen to ascending and descending melodic contours, following melodic movement with their hands, or when asked to recognize and imitate sounds, students are developing phonological skills, skills concerned with how sounds are organized and used in languages. Fostering good aural discrimination will pave the way for an easier acquisition of foreign languages, improving pronunciation and listening skills. In tonal languages this is even more evident. Mastering the different shēng or tones in Mandarin-Chinese is all about melodic contours.

Bells

Bells used for aural discrimination

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Working with patterns and sequences successfully is just one of the many aspects of logical- mathematical intelligence that finds its place in music instruction. Willems’ teaching approach, especially towards its third stage of the scheme, focuses on the many patterns and cycles that one can find in music.

Scales are just one example. Children will learn to sing a host of scale “cycles”, from Do to Do, Re to Re, Mi to Mi, and so forth, in every key, singing all sounds to the same syllable, such as “no”, in order to focus on the cycle of pitches. They will also recite the “cycle of names” on one same pitch, focusing on the order and pattern of the words we use to label sounds. A short musical idea can be sung and repeated, starting from the next note of the scale in ascending order each time, until we reach the original motif. These “ordering” exercises not only help understand the order and hierarchy that tonality comprises, but are likely to develop the “logical mind”.

The scale cycle drawn by a student

The scale cycle drawn by a student

Spatial Intelligence

Enrique Granados, one of the greatest Spanish composers of the nineteenth century, described music as architecture in movement. Let us dwell on this beautiful image. Why not turn on some music? Instrumental music preferably, so that words and their meanings don’t take up our attention. With our eyes closed, let us try to visualize all that we hear.

Our doctoral research showed us the strong links between spatial intelligence and music intelligence. One important link is graphical representation of music, a significant step in the second stage of Willems’ scheme. Five-year olds will graphically represent musical features such as melodic movement, sound duration or variation in intensity. The simple line graphs that are drawn are indeed “visual maps” to music, maps that will be increasingly refined until children become proficient sheet music navigators.

Students reading melodic movement in graphics

Students reading melodic movement in graphics

Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence transpires in music when we pay attention to the accuracy and virtuosity of instrumental touch. Anyone that has seen a good musician perform will have observed the long and complex sequence of movements that take place at great speed.

We also become aware of this when observing how the plasticity and flexibility of movements can help convey musical content, such as the mood of a musical work. Have you ever watched an orchestral conductor on television while muting the volume of your set? Could you actually imagine the music taking place just by observing his gestures? You could most probably feel the character and tempo without listening to a single note.

Great attention is paid to bodily-kinesthetic aspects, especially in the development of rhythmic skills and the introductory work to instrumental performance. Activities involving corporal movement are featured in every lesson.

Movement

Corporal movement with music in class

Personal intelligences

Given the emotional nature of music, personal intelligences are at its core. Unfortunately, this is sometimes ignored in music education; we can still find music lessons around the globe where the main emphasis is put on technique and where students are made to sing or perform on instruments without fostering expressivity. The umbilical cord between the child’s emotional core and her expression through music can’t be taken for granted.

In Willems’ approach to music education children are encouraged to take part actively in the lessons. Children are frequently asked to express themselves musically through melodic and rhythmic improvisation. Personal intelligences also play a significant role when students are asked to move to the music chosen because of its emotional content.

Conclusion

After opening a small window to the “transfer effects” of musical intelligence to all other Multiple Intelligences, through the lens of a specific approach to music education, we keep on asking ourselves: shouldn’t music education be taken more seriously by school administrators and political authorities worldwide?

When granting scholarships, the majority of the most prestigious Anglo-American schools and colleges take musical background into account. . Why is this so, even when the institution’s aim is not to help students pursue a career in music? Could it be that principals and deans are aware that students with a significant background in music are often good listeners, empathic, with considerable analytical and synthetic skills, with a predisposition to learn foreign languages more easily, with good spatial organization skills, great control over their bodies, a great capacity for self-motivation, discipline and a sense of responsibility? Who wouldn’t want to have this kind of students!?

Even if it just for practical reasons, given the positive “side-effects”, music education should have a much greater importance than what it has today. Having said this, let us put aside the benefits of music education and training, the effects on academic performance or the prospect of a coveted scholarship. The beauty, the grandeur and the value of music by itself can’t be stressed enough. We couldn’t agree more with Gardner’s words when he states in this same blog that “if the arts help with math or SAT scores, that’s just a bonus”.

Should we start encouraging teachers to use mathematics “instrumentally”, to help improve musical intelligences?

MI and Law Enforcement Training

Each day, Howard Gardner receives several general inquiries or pointed questions related to applications of the theory of multiple intelligences.

In the exchange below, Gardner received a note from a police training officer seeking advice on how to incorporate MI into training for law enforcement personnel.

Read the original note and Gardner’s response below.

 

Good morning Dr. Gardner,

I am part of a training group in my local police force (Police Training Officers, or PTOs) that has been tasked with the creation of a manual of problem based learning exercises to assist new officers in becoming considerate and understanding. I would like to use the theory of multiple intelligences as well as the concept of emotional intelligence in the manual.

Our questions, as basic as they may be, are:

1. What are your thoughts on the applicability of your theory to law enforcement?

2. How can each component of MI be used to assist the development of police officers in America today?

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your insight.

Sincerely,

Police Trainer

____________________

Dear Police Trainer,

Many thanks for your thoughtful note. I am pleased and flattered that you and your colleagues think that the MI ideas we have developed might be useful in the education of police officers and future training officers (PTOs). At the start, I have to admit that I know very little about the training of police—in the past or today—and much of what I know is based either on old television shows or movies or on my scanning of newspaper headlines over the past years.

Therefore, I ask that you consider these notes to be “general advice” for educating professionals in general, rather than advice that is particularly targeted to your specific colleagues and future colleagues. (For that reason, I am posting the response here on MI Oasis.)

To begin with, the most important implication of MI theory for any profession, including law enforcement officers, is an appreciation that both their colleagues, and equally the individuals to whom they respond, may think quite differently from the ways in which they themselves do. For example, reflecting on an event that he/she witnesses, one person may convert the event into a story to be retold, another may see it much like a movie, a third will think about how the participants felt and reacted, and so on. My set of eight intelligences lay out the principal ways in which experiencers “code” and “recode” events at the time, for their memory, and for how they share these recollections with others. The more that one is cognizant of this fact of life, the less likely one will blunder—and of course, in law enforcement, such blunders can be fatal, as we’ve seen all too often in the last few years.

Another important implication of MI theory is how one assembles teams of peers, as well as teams of supervisors and rookies. Of course, there should be some expectations of all members of the team—for example, senses of responsibility, loyalty, and helpfulness. But in general, teams perform in superior fashion if they contain individuals who have complementary skills and approaches. Rather than having a dozen carbon copies of the chief, or the former chief, teams perform more effectively if a few members are more logical/analytic, a few have a very good “person sense,” a few are very sensitive to the environment—both physical and interpersonal—and so on. These disparate individuals will likely have different “takes” on what happens/happened, and what should be done, and these diverse stances should result in a fuller understanding of situations and how those situations should be followed up.

Understanding others (interpersonal intelligence) is crucial, but equally important is a good understanding of yourself (intrapersonal intelligence)—how you think, how (and under what circumstances) you react, what are your strong and weak points, and how to use this profile in a constructive way. I am grateful to my colleagues Tom Hoerr and Mindy Kornhaber for these pointers.

Now that police units (and observers) are likely to record events, the skills of recording and interpreting need to be added to the repertoire of police teams.

In the last years, I have provisionally added a new intelligence to my original eight. I call it “pedagogical” or “teaching” intelligence. We all know that there can be two people who are equally skilled at some activity; one can easily teach/explain it to others, while the second is quite stymied, ends up repeating himself, and is very insensitive to what the learner is picking up and how. You should be alert to the power of teaching intelligence and place good teachers in appropriate positions.

I could go on, but I hope that these notes convey how I am thinking about the training of officers and, more generally, how MI theory can be helpful to those who are charged with the formation of the next generation of professionals. If you have any thoughts or criticisms, I’d be pleased to hear them.

With best wishes,

Howard

Guest Blog Series: Multiple Intelligences in Music, Part II

We recently received three guest blog entries regarding the use of Multiple Intelligences Theory in music education. The first, about MI and songwriting, is available by clicking here.

In the second blog, printed below, Graeme Winder, an advocate for music education reform for over 17 years, outlines how a multiple intelligences perspective can increase engagement and student success. Winder, who draws from a mix of personal experience as well as classroom studies, seeks to forge powerful new ideas into traditional paradigms in hopes of creating a much more effective way to teach music.

Click here to read the subsequent third post in the series about Edgar Willems’ teaching system, MI, and music education.

———————————————————————————————-

Can Multiple Intelligences Theory Save Music Education?

By Graeme Winder

Does this sound familiar? You, your child, or someone you know, enrolls into music lessons with the hopes of reaping all the cognitive benefits that music education has to offer. Before long, what started out as unabashed excitement to begin this new journey of musical exploration, quickly degrades into a frustrating path of learning how to convert pages full of little black dots into music on your instrument.

The vast majority of those taking this path end up quitting soon after. In fact, music learning across the board, both privately and in our school systems, suffers from an astonishingly high drop-out rate of almost 80 percent in the first three years in my experience. Given the enormous cognitive, social, and artistic advantages that music learners have over non-music learners, why wouldn’t more individuals persevere through the initial struggles in order to reap the rewards that are promised to come?

Research studies have shown that lack of interest, poor relationships with the instructors, scheduling, and budget concerns all play a role in student dropouts. And while all of these reasons are valid, what if the real issue was something much deeper, something at the core of the teaching itself? What if the learning process was too restricted by antiquated paradigms to motivate and inspire the learning diversity of today’s student?

Many aspects of music have evolved throughout the centuries. New styles, instruments, and digital music breakthroughs continue to excite us today. And yet, the core of how music elements are taught has not shifted far from its pre-Renaissance western origins. As more and more students continue to fall out of the traditional teaching, the desire for alternative options continues to grow.

For the past seven years, our incubator school, Winder Academy of Music, has been researching, testing, and developing a new approach to solving these pedagogical challenges head on. Our approach was simple: design a new system that allowed for multiple learning pathways using a creative-based foundation.

We began by dividing our lesson plans into nine musical sub-categories that formed the core of our multiple intelligence platform (See Table 1 below). We then tested our students using carefully crafted evaluation techniques that allowed us to define and isolate a particular strength or weakness in each of the nine areas, resulting in a jagged-line profile of the student. Once we had this information, we could then mold a personalized lesson plan centered around the highest scoring areas while creating a secondary plan that would work on bolstering the students’ weaker areas.

For example, let’s say a student shows a particularly strong affinity towards the following fields: fine motor skills (kinesthetic), music theory and analysis (logical-mathematical), and lyricism (verbal-linguistic) . This student would then have a lesson plan that would include a stronger focus on technically challenging pieces and song-writing, highlighting those strengths in the very first lesson.

In seven years, Winder Academy has reported a retention rate of almost 75% and has found great success in the new method. The identification and development of individual learning strengths had clearly led to much higher levels of both effectiveness and enjoyment.

Students trained in this method are demonstrating a very advanced level of musical competency in many different areas. From playing anything by ear, to sight reading advanced sheet music, to writing original compositions, we have seen that the students advance much more quickly and with greater enthusiasm when they are learning in a style that aligns with their particular intelligence strength.

As one student who went on to pursue a career in music put it, “Early on, I struggled with reading notes. This new training allowed me to learn and develop much more quickly in ways that made a lot more sense.”

While there is still much more to be explored, tested, and understood, it is clear that offering multiple intelligence learning pathways to achieve stronger musical connections has had a profound impact on the direct success and retention in our school.

Music touches every person on this planet in such powerful ways. Perhaps with the help of MI learning, the questions and challenges facing music education today can finally be answered.

Table 1.

MI Chart

MI Theory Overview Video

The Brock International Prize in Education, which Howard Gardner was awarded in 2015, has created a short video summary of the theory of multiple intelligences.

In the engaging and quick feature, which incorporates illustrations and diagrams, the components and implications of MI theory are explained in simple terms.

Check out the 2-minute video below!

Individuation in Education: How Tech Companies Might Play a Role

As one who has long urged a more personalized form of education, I’m very pleased to see that Facebook plans to create platforms that will address each learner specifically (rather than relying on generic approaches, the so called ‘one size fits all’ model).

I understand that other technology companies like Apple have similar aspirations. Even if there were such an entity as the ‘average person,’ it’s clear that many of us are not average; a generic approach to education will only suit a small minority of learners. The rest of us, with more jagged profiles or idiosyncratic strengths and weaknesses, are left to fend for ourselves.

Yet a commitment to individualization or personalization is but the first step (and all too often, it is only a rhetorical step). One then has to determine on what basis the individualization takes place. I can envision at least three possibilities:

l. A Single Learning Path, but the pace of advancement is adjusted to the learner. In this simplest form, one still assumes that there is only one way to learn, but that individuals differ in how quickly they advance along that single path. This was the rationale of teaching machines, originally designed by psychologist B. F. Skinner in the middle of the twentieth century, and still the most popular version of individual differences.

2. Favored Content. Even at young ages, individuals have quite different preferences. Five year olds may be fascinated by numbers, by dinosaurs, by foods, or by certain kinds of animals. Many ideas can be presented via different ‘vehicles,’ and quite possibly, strong interests and deep knowledge combine to help with learning those ideas.

3. Different Learning Styles. The assumption here is that individuals differ in how they approach learning; the delivery of materials and collection of responses depends on the so-called preferred style of the learner. The styles could be related to sensory systems (visual learner, auditory learner, etc.) or to cognitive styles (focused or wide-ranging; playful or planful; rational or intuitive, etc.). As I’ve frequently noted, ‘learning styles’ are not the same as ‘intelligences’.

4. Different Intelligences. Here one assumes that all human beings have the same set of intelligences, but that individuals differ in which of the intelligences are stronger, and thus presumably constitute privileged ways of mastering educational materials. And so, when taking a course in history or in mathematics, some learners gain from a linguistic approach, others from a spatial approach, still others from a logical or bodily approach. On this version of personalization, Facebook would teach individuals using methods consistent with their intellectual profiles. The profiles could be inferred from personal testimony, observations by parents or teachers, or simple computer-presented measurements.

Of course, one would not have to approach individuals through their area of intellectual strength. One might even try to bolster a weak intelligence—but such an approach should be adopted intentionally and not by accident.

There are many other types and approaches to individual differences—for example, through personality or through membership in cultural or social groups. They are not mutually exclusive—for instance, one could look both at favored contents and at profiles of intelligences. I look forward to seeing which facets of individual differences are chosen by Facebook (and other providers) and whether educational successes are thereby achieved.

-Howard Gardner