A professor of cognition and education reveals the five minds you need for success, how to make better decisions, and why ethics are critical.
Howard Gardner is a professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Heâ€™s also the author of over 20 books and several hundred scholarly articles. Gardner is probably best known in educational circles for his theory of multiple intelligences, which is a critique of the notion that there exists but a single human intelligence that can be assessed by standard psychometric instruments. His most recent book, Five Minds for the Future, offers some advice for policy-makers on how to do a better job of preparing students for the 21st century. Mind Matters editor Jonah Lehrer chats with Gardner about his new book, the possibility of teaching ethics and how his concept of multiple intelligences has changed over time.
LEHRER: Your most recent book argues that we need to dramatically re-think the way we think, especially when it comes to learning. What’s the problem with our current models?
GARDNER: As many people have pointed out, our educational system basically prepared individuals for the 19th and 20th century. In Five Minds for the Future, I describe the kinds of minds that will be at the highest premium going forward. Although our existing models of learning are reasonably good for developing a disciplined mind, they have almost nothing to say about the synthesizing mind, though it is arguably the most important mind for the 21st century. I donâ€™t think that any of us knows how best to cultivate the creative mind; but our current ways of thinking and teaching are excellent at quashing the creative mind.
As for the last two kinds of mind I identify in the bookâ€”respectful and ethicalâ€”these are generally considered beyond the purview of theories of learning. Respect should be inculcated from birth, and is best learned by example. As for the ethical mind, that has been my chief research concern for the past 15 years. Our current thinking about this vexing topic is best accessed via a visit to goodworkproject.org