Finland, the Common Core, and MI

The Huffington Post's World Post reports that Finland has adopted new standards for its National Core Curriculum similar to those of the Common Core in the United States.

Under the new regulations, Finnish educators would no longer teach subjects like math, science, or history to students; instead, learning will be topical, meaning that lessons will be interdisciplinary and practical in nature. For example, a class on the European Union would combine elements of language, economics, history, and geography. As Finnish students consistently rank at the top of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, the new measure has attracted a lot of attention across the world.

In the US, the same interdisciplinary and real-world criteria have been a part of the Common Core movement to enhance critical thinking and problem solving skills.

The World Post article points out that the reforms align well with Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences (MI) theory. By catering to different modes of instruction and incorporating various ways of approaching the same issues in the classroom, the standards implicitly acknowledge MI's relevance to the educational experience.

Click here to read the full article.

Musical Intelligence: Sensing and Interpreting Music in the Brain

Notes by Howard Gardner

According to my definition, an intelligence should not be tied uniquely to a single sensory system. Linguistic intelligence operates, whether one listens, reads, or detects patterns in Braille; spatial intelligence is active in individuals who are blind.

For that reason, musical intelligence has posed a dilemma for me. On the one hand, it seems to be a quite separate human faculty, one analogous in power and complexity to numerical or linguistic computation, and worthy of including within the family of intelligences. On the other hand, for most persons, for most of the period of history, musical creation and perception has been closely tied to the auditory system. I have had to play the ‘rhythm’ card to base music’s super-sensory status on the multi-modality status of rhythm and on the importance of bodily intelligence in the production of musical patterns.

But as technology improves, and as our understanding of the human brain increases, it seems increasingly likely that music can be dissociated, in significant part, from the “auditory-exclusivity channel.” We have already experienced many efforts to visualize musical compositions, some obviously more successful than others, some algorithmic, others involving considerable artistic choice. At concerts now, we see interpreters attempting to convey the sounds and words of musical compositions to deaf individuals in the audience. I take seriously the views of neuroscientist Gottfried Schlaug: “Music has the unique ability to go through alternative channels and connect different sections of the brain.”

Recent studies have also shown the ability of music to boost cognitive development in the young, to facilitate more effective processing of information from the senses, and to create connectivity between different parts of the brain. To read more, please click here.

Beyond the Turing Test

The Turing Test, developed by British scientist Alan Turing and now familiar to viewers of the 2014 movie “The Imitation Game,” has long been considered the gold standard for the measurement of human intelligence. If, by its responses to a set of challenging verbal questions, a computer can fool a careful observer, then the computer would be deemed intelligent.

Now it is being increasingly recognized that no single set of questions, delivered in a single format, can determine whether a machine is intelligent. Rather, as described in an article from Science, a new and improved Turing Test must incorporate several measures due to the expanding capabilities of artificial intelligence. To quote from the article, in a new Turing Championship that would include a greater number of benchmarks and questions for computers, “the proposed challenges acknowledge that intelligence has multiple dimensions, from language acquisition to social awareness, that are best tackled piece by piece.”

Thus, a modern Turing Test should seek to measure various capabilities present in the human mind as a determinant of whether a respondent is human. And indeed, the list of capacities in this article—from physical movement to the ability to collaborate—is quite reminiscent of the ensemble of multiple intelligences.

Click here to read the full article via Science.

Cleese Autobiography References Multiple Intelligences

John Cleese's November 2014 autobiography So, Anyway... contains a short passage mentioning Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.

A renowned British comedian, Cleese's book describes his rise to stardom, from his days as a law student at Cambridge University in England to his meteoric success as a member of the famous comedy troupe Monty Python.

Discussing his time at university, Cleese muses about the definition of intelligence, agreeing with Gardner's multiple intelligences theory that there exist various and independent intellectual capacities in the human brain. "Which helps me understand why I sometimes think I am quite bright and sometimes feel like a complete dolt," says Cleese.

Read a review of Cleese's book that also mentions MI theory via The Herald Scotland, or buy a copy of So, Anyway... on Amazon.

Multiple Intelligences News from Asia

Two news stories published in October 2014 from countries in Asia have focused on spreading awareness of Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences theory.

First, The Philippine Star, the most circulated daily newspaper in the Philippines, discussed multiple intelligences in its piece on mothers becoming more involved in their childrens' educations by advocating for more inclusive conceptions of intellect and a broader spectrum of activities. Quoting from Gardner's book Frames of Mind, which introduced the theory of MI in 1983, the article makes the case that there are many different ways children can understand skills and that education can foster these multifaceted interpretations.

Read the full article here via The Philippine Star.

Second, the English-language Indian newspaper The New Indian Express highlighted a two-day workshop for teachers at St. John's Public School in Chennai, India. The conference exposed participants to multiple intelligences theory and informed teachers about how to incorporate new ways of teaching into their classrooms in order to touch upon all students' strengths.

Visit The New Indian Express to read more.

These exciting developments in Asia indicate the relevance of MI theory to the educational landscape today across national borders.