Contrary to what many people may think about the originator of the theory of multiple intelligences (MI), Howard Gardner spends little time these days thinking about his breakthrough. As he told a crowd during remarks at Askwith Hall on Tuesday (Jan. 26), “I don’t wake up and say, ‘Hey, there’s a sexual intelligence or a cooking intelligence.’”Gardner reflected on his famous theory ― in which he posits that all humans possess numerous autonomous intelligences rather than a single intelligence that can be measured through a tool such as the IQ test ― at an Askwith Forum called “Multiple Intelligences: The First 25 Years.” His theory made Gardner one of the most famous academics in the world, earning him the first MacArthur Prize Fellowship and honorary degrees from 26 universities. Gardner, who is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was also named one of the world’s top 100 leading public intellectuals by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines.“The heuristic value of this theory simply cannot be overstated,” said Dean Kathleen McCartney of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. “Howard’s theory of multiple intelligences has been inspiring the work of practitioners, researchers, and policymakers for more than 25 years, not just here but around the globe.”Calling himself a “lifer,” Gardner came to Harvard in 1961 as an undergraduate. As founding member in 1967 of Project Zero, of which he is senior director, Gardner began studying children’s artistic development. At the same time, he began research at a veterans’ hospital, studying patients with brain damage.“The MI theory would never have been spawned if I hadn’t been working with these two populations,” he said. “That turned out to be the critical spark that led to the ideas, because every day I would see children who had scattered intellectual profiles, [who] were not very good at school, or vice versa.” Gardner found himself immersed in data about what children could and couldn’t do. “I’d try to make sense of it, and it was not easy,” he said.In 1979, the Bernard van Leer Foundation awarded the School of Education more than $1 million to probe the nature of human potential. Gardner decided to focus on human cognition using disciplines such as evolution, various cognitive profiles and processes, different cultures, and human abilities.“I didn’t know I’d come up with the theory of MI,” Gardner said. “I thought, here’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put together all this stuff I had been observing and seeing and make sense out of it.” What Gardner discovered was that the human mind operated more like several computers related to one another. These computers, or “intelligences,” are linguistic, logical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical, and spatial.Gardner largely credited his use of the word “intelligences” as pivotal to the theory. “I would not be standing here today in this hall if I called it seven abilities or seven powers,” he said, even though he could not recall how he selected that word.The theory led to his 1983 book, “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.” Gardner recalled how the theory initially made people uncomfortable, but also seemed to resonate with educators, even though he admitted he never really thought about education.Ultimately, it was public reception of the theory that pushed Gardner into a level of fame rarely seen by academics. In fact, Gardner pinpointed the start of his “15 minutes of fame” at a 1984 meeting of the National Association of Independent Schools, where his arrival in the packed and noisy room in New York’s Hilton Hotel immediately caused it to become silent.Eventually, Gardner decided not to focus his entire life on MI. Still, 15 years ago, he added an eighth intelligence, naturist. And he has spent many years ruminating on whether there is a ninth intelligence, existential, which contemplates the big questions of life, such as: What is love? Why am I here? Who am I? However, Gardner said that he still needs more evidence on that one, so for now he suggests there are eight-and-a-half intelligences.These ideas continue to spread globally, even though Gardner said he has had little to do with what we might see as MI in the world. Today there are Asian milk drinks (promising to develop each intelligence), books, conferences, and schools dedicated to the theory. Although Gardner initially resisted addressing the implications of MI, he found that other people developed their own. While it has been interesting for him to watch people assimilate his work, this prompted a shift in Gardner’s own beliefs.“I said to myself, if I developed these ideas, I can’t simply say it’s up to other people how to use them,” he said. “If they’re being abused … I have to take responsibility.”In the past 15 years, that notion has largely inspired Gardner’s efforts on the Good Work Project, which identifies individuals and institutions exemplifying the meaning of positive work that encompasses three characteristics: excellence, engaging, and ethical.“My first work, and I make no apologies for it, was about intelligences, and a lot of the work on Good Work is about the kind of human being you are,” Gardner said. “The true implication, whether it’s here in this School or the rest of the University or anywhere in the world, [is that we] really need to focus on that … you have a world where [some] people are good people but don’t use their minds well, [and other] people use their minds in ways which are not worthy of human beings.”
Activist and author Jean Kilbourne spoke out last week after Saint Mary’s rescinded her invitation to speak during the College’s 2017 Commencement ceremony. The College withdrew its offer once it became aware that Kilbourne had received the Hilda Crosby Standish Leadership Award from Planned Parenthood of Connecticut in 2005, Kara Kelly, special assistant to the president of Saint Mary’s, said in an email.According to Kelly, no contract had been signed before the decision to rescind the offer was made. The College has since continued with Commencement planning and will announce the speaker later this month.Kelly said the President’s Office accepts nominees for Commencement speakers. Those candidates are then reviewed by the Student Affairs Council and are approved by the Board of Trustees, which has the final say in the decision.“There is a difference in a department or student group inviting someone to speak on campus, versus inviting a Commencement speaker,” Kelly said. “Commencement speakers at Saint Mary’s also receive an honorary degree, the College’s highest honor, subject to approval from the Board of Trustees.”Kilbourne said she has spoken at over 50 Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada without her award ever presenting an issue.“I’ve spoken to Saint Mary’s in the past,” she said. “I’ve always had a wonderful time. I’ve spoken at Notre Dame.”Although the College extends an invitation to multiple speakers — as scheduling conflicts sometimes occur and a new speaker needs to be selected quickly — Kilbourne said she was not aware of this and thought she would be speaking, as she had accepted the initial offer.“That certainly wasn’t my understanding,” she said. “I received an offer, a contract was drawn up. It had not been signed, but it was in the works. In fact, I turned down another engagement for that day. … As far as I knew and understood, this was an offer for me to be the Commencement speaker, and it was then withdrawn for this reason.”Kilbourne said after her invitation was rescinded, she was told that an alumna or alumnae had found out about her award and put pressure on the College.“I’m sympathetic to the position that Saint Mary’s was put in,” she said. “I just feel like this was really too bad. It’s too bad it’s happening here, and it’s happening other places as well.”Kilbourne said she has no resentment toward the College, but rather is disappointed with the decision that was made.“It makes me sad, it makes me disappointed,” she said. “I really had some important things to say. I’m a graduate of Wellesley College — an all women’s college. I’m very supportive of women’s colleges, so I really had looked forward to speaking to the young women of Saint Mary’s. I was honored by the invitation, and I was looking forward to it.”Kilbourne said this situation is indicative of the times, as many campuses across the country have barred people from speaking because of political issues.“It’s very disturbing, the increasing divisiveness,” she said. “I’m a uniter, I’m not a divider. I really have always tried to bring people together on difficult issues. … This is happening from the left and the right, people being disinvited to campuses because they don’t meet certain tests. I think this is dangerous for education.”Kilbourne said she was not planning on speaking about Planned Parenthood, abortion or even reproductive rights in her speech.“I was going to speak about what I speak about, which is the influence of advertising on all of [us] and trying to help the young women, in particular, to resist the negative images of women in advertising.”Kelly said College departments and student groups go through a different process of bringing speakers to campus than the process used in selecting the Commencement speaker, due to the speaker’s additional honor of receiving an honorary degree at Commencement.“As an educational principle, Saint Mary’s encourages the free and vibrant exchange of ideas, and grants campus groups considerable freedom in determining the speakers who best contribute to a challenging and stimulating academic atmosphere,” Kelly said.Tags: Commencement 2017, Jean Kilbourne, Planned Parenthood
Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger has revealed that he would like to manage in the German Bundesliga if he does indeed opt to leave the north London club when his current contract expires this summer, according to reports in the Daily Mail.The experienced French trainer’s future at the Emirates is still in some doubt, with Wenger yet to have put pen to paper on the new deal that the club have put on the table for some time now.Wenger has always insisted though that he will keep his word and sign the new two-year contract shortly, with many expecting an announcement to be made on the matter just prior to the club’s FA Cup final against Hull City at Wembley Stadium later this month.However, if the 64-year-old does indeed opt to end his 18-year association with Arsenal at the end of the campaign, then Wenger could very well move to Germany to continue his illustrious coaching career.“If I was to go somewhere then I think it would be in a different country because I am so much Arsenal that I would not like to coach anywhere else in England,” Wenger recently said in an interview with BeIN Sports.