Intelligence. Such a simple word yet such a dense, complex and oft-divisive concept amongst educators.
Discussions this week with a policy-maker from interstate and a group of teacher-educators reminded me of just how large a divide there is amongst those involved in teacher-preparation and teaching and assessment, not to mention the “general-public”.
No, you AREN’T a Visual Learner!
Theories or styles of learning and the accompanying “neuro-myths” that often persist like most popular urban-myths, appear pervasive and persistent across decades.
A late 2017 article in Frontiers in Psychology pointed out the conundrum that educators with MORE general knowledge about the brain, appeared to be more likely to believe “neuro-myths”.
These persistent neuromyths included the idea that students learn best when they are taught in their preferred learning style (i.e., VAK: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic; Coffield et al., 2004; Pashler et al., 2008), the idea that students should be classified as either “right-brained” or “left-brained,” and the idea that motor coordination exercises can help to integrate right and left hemisphere function. Surprisingly, they found that educators with more general knowledge about the brain were also more likely to believe neuromyths (Dekker et al., 2012).
In my own post-graduate studies I remember how influential and challenging Frank Coffield’s study on the efficacy of “Learning Styles” was. Should we be Using Learning Styles? What Research Has to Say To Practice. He found basic theoretical incoherence and conceptual confusion in over seventy major “theories”.
This is not unique to schools. Spend any amount of time in “HR” department of a mid to large size company and you will find devotees of a range of “personality tests”, “aptitude testing” or “compatibility and culture challenges”. Myers-Briggs anyone? (The fad that won’t die…)
A simple straw-poll in any staff-room in any Primary or Secondary school, [let alone the Graduate Schools of Education] will demonstrate the significant variation in what practitioners understand “learning” and/or “intelligence” to be and how their accompanying personal theory of learning has developed over years. Regardless of the evidence. New or old.
Want to start a fight in a staff room? As the room “How do children learn?” or even better, “how should I teach a child to read?” Now step back and duck…
Ten Years ago this month, the Central Ranges Local Learning & Employment Network hosted Professor Howard Gardner for the Future Minds Forum looking at the notions of intelligence, leadership, ethics and the role of education and educators in preparing young people for an ever complex and challenging world.
Our region was honoured, in fact, to host Professor Howard Gardner TWICE in Australia. The first via Video Conference in 2005 and the second in person at the “Future Minds Forum in 2007”. The two audio files below are interesting snippets of the conversations a decade ago.
Future Minds 2007
5 Minds for the Future
Certainly, much of Professor Gardner’s work is very well known amongst educators. It is also perhaps some of the most widely misinterpreted, by teachers and educational networks alike.
In January 2017, Howard Gardner delivered a series of three lectures at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. These lectures revisited three topics that Gardner has studied over many years: intelligence, creativity, and leadership. Having written books about each of these threads (see his work on MI, Creating Minds, and Leading Minds), about half of each lecture was devoted to summarizing the work he has carried out over the decades. However, in the latter part of each lecture, he presented his recent ideas and thematic conclusions.
Professor Howard Gardner
Howard is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is also an adjunct professor of psychology at Harvard University and senior director of Harvard Project Zero. Among numerous honors, Gardner received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship and a Fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1981 and 2000, respectively.
In 1990, he was the first American to receive the University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Award in Education. In recognition of his contributions to both academic theory and public policy, he has received honorary degrees from thirty-one colleges and universities, including institutions in Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, South Korea, and Spain.
He has twice been selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world.
In 2011, Gardner received the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences, and in 2015, he was chosen as the recipient of the Brock International Prize in Education.
- Article: Dispelling the Myth: Training in Education or Neuroscience Decreases but Does Not Eliminate Beliefs in Neuromyths
- Report: Should we be Using Learning Styles? What Research Has to Say To Practice. London: Learning & Skills Research Centre.
- Article: Goodbye to MBTI, the Fad That Won’t Die
- Central Ranges Local Learning & Employment Network
- Professor Howard Gardner
- Harvard Graduate School of Education
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