Q&A with Students Around the World

Howard Gardner has recently had several email exchanges with students from around the world who are interested in MI. Read them in full below.

Dear Dr. Gardner
Greetings! I am a student from Iraq, and I am studying research related to  humor intelligence. I am looking for direct studies, and I have not yet found any study on the subject directly.

Please, do you have studies on the topic? I am ready to buy sources, books and studies that address this topic.

Best wishes,

Student from Iraq


Dear Student from Iraq,

This is an interesting topic, and I'd be curious to learn what you discover.  Personally, I don’t believe there is a separate humor intelligence. People may well differ in their abilities to tell jokes, make funny drawings, or appreciate the humor of others. But I don’t find it useful to designate it as a separate intelligence. Rather, I think that a sense of humor involves playing with certain expected arrangements (hence, logic), and in the process, stimulating an affective response.

Good luck in your exploration.

With best wishes,

Howard Gardner

Dear Professor Gardner,

How do we measure student learning outcome (e.g. hands-on skills, emotional strength, self-management, etc.) that’s not testable on paper? How do we quantify the results, make benchmark and comparisons, and communicate with parents and students themselves about the progress?

Thank you very much again, professor.

Best regards,

Student from China


Dear Student from China,

Thanks for your note! Of course, you can create a paper-and-pencil measure for anything, and there are lots of vendors who will be only too happy to give you measures of self management, emotional intelligence etc. I have a few quick thoughts:

l.  Observations with agreements among observers are quite powerful

2. Use of so-called 'inspectors' worked well in England for many decades

3. If you use paper-and-pencil or other so-called 'objective' measures, use more than one--if they agree, and are not simply variations on the same theme, then you can be confident in the judgment

4. Some of these judgments can involve self-report and judgments by parents

Most important, don't worry so much about objective tests. If you have to test for it, it's probably not being very effective. I can spend an hour in a Western school and have some confidence about whether it is a productive institution or a mess.

We should do things because we believe in them and think that they are right--Harvard worked pretty well for centuries without such measures--and now, that we are loaded with measures, I doubt that we are any better off.

But I realize the chances for corruption among judges…

With best wishes,

Howard Gardner

Dear Dr. Gardner,

Thank you for your attention!

Lately I've come across a big question, and I do not have the answer. If you can clarify this doubt, we will take a big step in our program that seeks to transform the school into an authentic laboratory of reflections and practices that foster the cognitive, emotional, social and ethical development of the student.

In our program we work simultaneously with cognitive and emotional stimuli.

My great doubt since the emotions are intrinsic in the human being is the following:

In order to have intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences developed, do we need to develop the intelligences linked to the cognitive process?

Thank you,

Researcher from Brazil


Dear Researcher from Brazil,

Thanks for your note. I don’t think of this issue in the way that you describe it. For me all of the intelligences are cognitive, and they all involve emotions. While I don’t object to Dan Goleman's notion of a separate emotional intelligence, I don’t see it the same way that he does.

As for the development of the personal intelligences, I think that the role models around us affect the nature and extent of our personal intelligences. If you are on the autistic/asperger spectrum, it will be more difficult to develop personal intelligenes--but the writings of Ron Susskind about his son, Owen, indicate how movies--like Disney movies--can be helpful.

With best wishes,

Howard Gardner