MI Expert Dr. Thomas R. Hoerr's Interview with Brazilian Magazine, "Nós"

In June 2017, MI Expert Dr. Thomas R. Hoerr, Emeritus Head of School at New City School and Scholar In Residence, UMSL College of Education in St. Louis, MO, was interviewed by journalist for the Brazilian online magazine, "Nós."

Below, the interview is printed in full.

Nós: In your opinion, what was the greatest contribution of research on Multiple Intelligences Theory to science and education?

Thomas Hoerr: I believe that Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI) caused us to view intelligence more broadly, beyond a score that can be derived from a paper and pencil test. This can have powerful implications for how educators view student potential and how they differentiate instruction.

N: Around the web, it's easy to find a lot of articles and tests based on your work that try to define people's types of intelligences. How can a person find out, in a more scientific way, their most and least developed types of intelligences?

TH: There are many tests, as you point out, and I know that Branton Shearer’s MIDAS test has been widely used. My bias, though, is to determine intelligence strengths by observation. When given choices, how do people solve problems? How do people spend their spare time? We typically enjoy doing those things at which we excel, and we are likely to excel in those areas in which we have strengths.

N: How many intelligences can be found in a person?

TH: We all have some of each intelligence. That is, all eight intelligences are found within us. The relative strengths of the intelligences will vary greatly, of course.

N: What can governments take from your theory to improve public education around the world?

TH: We should focus less on standardized tests, both for assessing student potential and growth and also for determining our curricular focus. Children of all ages (and adults) benefit from experiences in the arts.

N: What do you think about elective matters in high school?

TH: There is a basic set of skills and understandings that all students need, i.e., the 3 R’s. Beyond that, I believe that giving students choices can increase motivation and performance.

Dr. Marty Nemko of Psychology Today Interviews Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner was recently interviewed by Psychology Today's Marty Nemko, Ph.D. Dr. Nemko and Dr. Gardner discussed MI, education, ethics, and what still lies in store for Dr. Gardner.

The text of this interview is below and can be found in it's original form here.


Multiple Intelligence, Higher Education Reform, and Ethics
An interview with Howard Gardner. By Marty Nemko Ph.D.

It’s comforting to think that our intelligence isn’t reducible to a single number. Indeed, especially in education circles, the theory of multiple intelligences is widely embraced.

In today’s interview, part of a series called "The Eminents," I spoke with that theory’s creator, Howard Gardner. We spoke not only about that but about his current work examining U.S. higher education and ethical issues in the professions, including psychology.

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard. He received a MacArthur "Genius Grant,"  and has received honorary degrees from 31 colleges. He’s twice been selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the world’s 100 most influential public intellectuals. He has written 30 books that have been translated into 32 languages.

MN: Say a little about the theory of multiple intelligences.

HG: Multiple-intelligence theory has never been embraced by the psychometric community but has had enormous influence in education in many parts of the world. Most of my thinking has focused on educational uses—individualizing education and multiple ways of presenting concepts--and criticizing proposals that seem wrong-headed, for example, describing groups in terms of their "dominant intelligences," or creating short-answer tests that purport to reveal the test-taker’s intellectual profile.

MN: So it’s more of a philosophy than data-based?

HG: No, the theory is entirely empirical, based on a huge amount of data gleaned from several disciplines. But it’s not experimental—You can’t do a test to prove the theory right or wrong. Rather, like many theories in non-experimental fields like geology, archaeology, astronomy, or even evolution, it’s a synthesis of data.  Its survival is based on whether better syntheses come along.

MN:  Over the years, has the theory changed?

HG: For the most part, it has withstood the test of time. I have added one intelligence (naturalist) and contemplated the evidence for two additional ones (existential and pedagogical.) But I’ve now moved on to other topics, for example, examining higher education on several campuses around the nation and considering how it might best be transformed. Once again, the study is based on data—My team and I will carry out about 2,000 interviews. Our findings will be our synthesis of what we’ve learned.

MN: I believe that a core problem with undergraduate education, especially at research universities like Harvard, Stanford, NYU, etc, is that most teaching is done by PhDs, who by temperament, training, interests, and rewards are researchers first. So they spend most of their time and energy probing a snip of a field’s cutting edge.  In my view, the attributes needed to be a transformative undergraduate instructor are pretty orthogonal to that. It would seem that undergraduate education would be superior if there was a separate track for teaching faculty. Your thoughts?

HG: At institutions with which I am familiar, advancement and tenure is generally evaluated in terms of research productivity, with teaching evaluations and institutional service considered as well. In the future, I favor adding the components of "helping students to grow" and "strengthening the institution.”

American undergraduate education in the liberal arts has been justifiably admired around the world. Citizens with means seek to send their children to Stanford or Swarthmore or Skidmore and many countries crave connections to American universities—See Yale-Singapore,  NYU-Abu Dhabi.

We do need to ask more of teachers but also of students, parents, and policymakers.  The goal of our current study is to point the way toward quality higher education in the United States and in the rest of the world.

MN: Your current work also focuses on ethical issues in the field of education. Here’s one I’m particularly curious about. Is it fair to subject the nation's students to the full range of instructor quality? Mightn't more students, rich and poor, learn more from an online, highly-immersive interactive individually paced, differentially taught online course team-taught by a dream team of the nation's most transformational teachers and supplemented by  an in-person discussion group?

HG: Initially, there was ecstasy about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)—They were going to solve all of our educational challenges. Then, there was the inevitable reaction: Most individuals don’t complete MOOCs, and those that do tend to be already well-educated. And so, hardly a solution.

MN: I’m talking about something different. I’m talking about making online courses available not just to the well-educated but as part of the curriculum for all college students. And because they were developed to serve the entire nation, they could be taught by a team of the nation's or even world's most transformational instructors, supported by, for example, gamification designers. And, as I said, it would be supplemented by an in-person discussion group.

HG: MOOCs are already available for all, though, as you note, they tend to be completed by individuals with sufficient expertise and motivation. I’m sure that they will steadily improve and will eventually be taken for granted.  However, accessibility is not the same as affordability. To create a quality MOOC is costly—and to include discussion facilitated by qualified instructors also requires resources. So far no one has found a way to educate on the cheap—Education is still more like a string quartet with little economy of scale than like the production of widgets.

MN: I do have to push back a little here.  If a course, say, calculus, were developed to serve the nation's let alone the world's students, the development cost per student would be amortized across millions of students and thus much lower than a nationful of traditional courses.

Let's turn to psychotherapists. After all, this is Psychology Today. It is difficult to control enough variables to ascertain therapy’s effectiveness or even a modality’s effectiveness, let alone effectiveness for adolescent African-American girls with moderate depression, 40%ile verbal intelligence but 70%ile emotional intelligence from a 20%ile SES living in rural Alabama. So therapists and patients alike end up relying on squooshy gut feeling to decide, for example, whether and with whom a patient should spend money and time in an attempt to heal. What is the ethical obligation of the individual psychotherapist and of the profession as a whole in that regard?

HG:  I am a trained psychologist but not a clinician and don’t have special knowledge on which to draw. That said, our work on ethics TheGoodProject.organd my blog The Professional Ethicist does offer a way to think about such issues.

The way to deal with ethical dilemmas is to create a common space—often called a commons—in which trained personnel can describe a dilemma, consider courses of action, and look for the best solution.

The commons doesn't end with the decision. It's important to examine the decision’s consequences, to learn positive lessons and reflect on the difficulties and failures to see whether a better decision could be made in the future.

You rightly point out the difference between the individual professional and the profession as a whole. Any profession should have norms around the issue you raise. And, in the words of the great economic thinker Albert Hirschman, we all owe a measure of loyalty to professional norms. But when the norms seem unhelpful or unproductive, one needs to speak up—to activate voice. And in the extreme, if the profession and one’s colleagues seem estranged from a thoughtfully selected course of action, you need to consider the possibility of exit. Of course, if you knowingly violate norms or laws, you need to be prepared to face the consequences—or to lead a revolution!

MN:You will soon be 73. What’s in store for the future?

HG: Contradictory precepts that have guided me for as long as I can remember: 1: I will live forever.  2: I will die tomorrow.

I see no reason to alter this dual allegiance: Though I am now past the Biblical threshold of 70, I’m at what has been dubbed the "still" age: still teaching, still conducting research, still writing.  To that list I’ve added two welcome descriptors: grandparent and mentor. I try to fill both roles competently.

As for my work, this interview has touched on its three principal phases.

  • MI theory is now past adolescence and I am allowing it to fend for itself.

  • Colleagues and I have now worked for two decades on issues of ethics, good work, and good citizenship. Our efforts now are to share what we have found—our concepts, our overall framework, our toolkits--with educators, other professionals, parents, students, etc. We also are seeking productive collaborations with other individuals and institutions that share these missions. I owe a special debt to Lynn Barendsen, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Bill Damon, Wendy Fischman and Carrie James who have been true partners in this work.

  • Our current work is a large national study of "liberal arts and sciences in the 21st century.” We are studying ten deliberately disparate campuses. Our wonderful team is headed by Wendy Fischman. We are not ready yet to publicize our findings—indeed, we don’t yet know what they will be. Stay tuned!

This article originally appeared on

Italian Magazine Interviews Howard Gardner

The Italian periodical Teatri delle diversità has published a comprehensive interview with Howard Gardner as the cover story of its May 2015 issue!

Discussing multiple intelligences theory, HGSE's Project Zero, his wide-ranging research, the state of education in the world today, the content of several of his books, and more, this interview with Gardner includes variety of subjects and is a must-read for Italian speakers interested in Gardner's ideas and work.

Click here for a PDF of the article in Italian. The piece is also available via the magazine's website. (Thanks to Marcel Higuera Brunner for translating the interview into Spanish, available by clicking here.)

The English text of the interview has been reprinted below.

1. The international scientific community has recognized the importance of your theory of multiple intelligences and the idea that intelligence is not a single factor quantifiable by an I.Q. test. In the 30 years since your work on The Mind’s New Science, do you believe educators have sufficiently embraced the concept of the centrality of the mind and the role that context and culture play in the formation of an individual?

A: In the United States alone, there are close to five million K-12 educators, and there are certainly ten times as many in the rest of the world. I think it is amazing that many of these educators have heard of MI theory, in one form or another, though most would not have read my works or know my name. I feel that I’ve been successful in challenging the notion of a single intelligence that is adequately assessed by an IQ test or its equivalent.

But once one gets to more specific questions, like an understanding of the role of context and culture, I don't feel that I can give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. So much depends on how the questions are phrased and the answers are interpreted.

Let me give an example. In the United States, if you ask teachers, “Are there children whom we should call ‘gifted?'”, many if not most will say ‘No.’ That’s the politically correct answer. But if you then ask the teacher to rank order students in terms of how well they paint or write or dance, they’ll have little difficulty in doing so.

By the way that I phrase the question, I can make teachers (or for that matter parents) seem either sensitive or insensitive to culture or context. But I will say this: Individuals who have taught for several years, and who are reflective about their practice, are quite likely to be sensitive to culture and context.

2. Considering your experience, how—and to what degree—can an educational scholar or practitioner positively influence the promotion of innovative and research based learning theories within the educational system?

A: Recently, an American scholar, Jack Schneider, has published a book called From the Ivory to the Schoolhouse. In that book, he analyzes pairs of ideas—which superficially seem quite similar, but which differ widely in the degree to which they have been picked up by educators. He compared my well known theory of intelligence, with the theory of intelligence developed by my colleague Robert Sternberg, and proposes reasons why my ideas have caught on and influenced both educational theory and practice, and why Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence has not had discernible impact.

Schneider emphasizes that the theories and research that have impacted practice are simple to state and also vivid to conceptualize; have immediate educational implications; do not cost a great deal to implement; and have found ‘translators’ and ‘advocates,’ who help teachers to understand and make use of the theory.

Of course, sometimes theories like mine are misunderstood and misapplied. Often the misuses are insignificant, but sometimes the misuses are damaging and need to be stopped. On a few occasions, I have had to be the ‘traffic cop’—explicitly denouncing practices that I feel are destructive or deceptive. I now have a website called, where I identify good practices and malpractices.

3. You have visited and observed early education centers around the world and were one of the first to recognize the significant contribution of Loris Malaguzzi and his Reggio Emilia team. Did your expereince in Italy help further your research on the learning potential of the young mind as you observed children in this classroom setting?

A: Of all my educational experiences over a fifty year period, my encounters with the schools in Reggio have had the greatest impact. That’s because the efforts of Loris Malaguzzi and his numerous colleagues have expanded our understanding of the potentials of young children to make use of ‘the one hundred languages of childhood’; and they have amplified our knowledge of how best to work with children from six months until they begin to school. The Reggio team has built on the fundamental understandings of Piaget and Montessori. They have fashioned educational interventions that are appropriate for our time and for cultures around the world.

At Harvard Project Zero, a research group of which I was a founding member in 1967, we have carried on research inspired by our collaborations with the Reggio Schools. In the book Making Learning Visible we described the importance of collaborative learning and documentation; and in the book Visible Learning we expand the Reggio approach for use with children at different ages. (Principal researchers: Mara Krechevsky, Ben Mardell, Melissa Rivard, Daniel Wilson)

4. You are the senior director of Project Zero, founded in 1967 by the philosopher and language scholar Nelson Goodman at Harvard University. This program has examined the learning process, from early childhood to adulthood, within institutions. Can you briefly summarize the latest findings of this research and the way it examines ideas around intelligence, creativity, understanding and ethics?

A: The easiest answer and most honest answer to this question is ‘No.’ Currently we have ten principal investigators at Project Zero, and each of them has instituted a separate and important line of investigation. These are best surveyed at our website

But to respond to the spirit of your question, I’ll briefly mention three lines of work of which I have direct knowledge. Others are described below in response to other questions.

A. Collaboration with Paul Salopek, a prize winning journalist who is taking a walk around the globe, simulating what homo sapiens did tens of thousands of years ago. Colleagues are developing materials that schoolchildren all over the world can employ to follow Salopek’s remarkable trek and to interact with peers who are trying to encompass their own neighborhood. (Principal researcher: Liz Duraisingh)

B. The ethics of the new digital media. Many assumptions about ethical behavior, having to do with truthfulness, privacy, intellectual property, and participation in a community, have been disrupted by the internet, the web, social media, search engines and the like. How do we re-negotiate moral and ethical behavior on this rapidly changing landscape? We’ve been studying both young people and adults as they attempt to choreograph and orchestrate their behaviors in ways that take advantage of the power of the media, but not at the expense of other persons. (Principal researcher: Carrie James)

C. Liberal arts and sciences in the 21st century. Four year residential education in the liberal arts and sciences is a genuine American invention. It is admired and imitated all over the world. But it is also in jeopardy in the United States due both to external factors (high costs, widespread demands for vocational education) and internal fractures (cheating, excessive drinking of alcohol, sexual misconduct, high-profile athletics). With researcher Wendy Fischman, I am carrying out a national study of how different ‘stakeholders’ think about this admired but increasingly fragile form of education. From our research on 5-10 campuses, we will make specific recommendations about how best to preserve and strengthen education in the liberal arts for our time.

5. In the volume Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the virtues in the 21th century, you claim that researching truth, beauty, and and goodness are profound human needs and, therefore, a fundamental basis for individual learning and growth. Could you briefly outline how public schools could incorporate this awareness into educational systems?

A: I think that every educator, indeed every human being, is concerned with what is true and what is not; what experiences to cherish and which ones to avoid; and how best to relate to other human beings. We differ in how conscious we are of these questions; how reflective we are about our own stances; whether we are aware of how these human virtues are threatened by critiques (philosophical, cultural) and by technologies (chiefly the digital media). A good educator should help us all to navigate our way in this tangled web of virtues.

In work that I’m currently undertaking, I speak about the naive or ‘unschooled’ view of the three virtues; how we should be schooled with respect to the virtues in formal schooling; and how we should continue to wrestle with what is true, beautiful, and good (and what is not) once we have left formal schooling. This is by no means an easy task. And yet, a continuing conversation with other persons, with cultural products, and with oneself, is a large part of what it means to be a human being, in our time and perhaps in all time.

6. The title of your current course at Harvard, which is taught to a very motivated and qualified group of international students, is called Good Work in Education: When Excellence, Engagement, and Ethics Meet. It picks up on the research of the Good Work Project founded by you in 1995 together with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and William Damon, later folded into the broader Good Project. Today, what does it mean, at all levels and all roles, to do “good work” in the field of education? Additionally, given your more than 20 years of  research and collaboration, can you articulate a sort of  “Code of Responsibility” for those working in the field of education in various contexts (teaching, administration, academia)?

A: Our general scheme of good work entails three characteristics, which, in English, all begin with the letter E. A good educator is technically EXCELLENT—he or she knows his subject matter, good pedagogy, and his or her students; a good educator is ENGAGED—he or she finds it meaningful to teach, and looks forward to the classroom encounters; a good educator is ETHICAL—he or she tries to figure out what is the proper course of action to follow in difficult situations; reflects on the choices made; and, in the future, tries to adjust his language and actions accordingly.

Note that the three Es are separate; one can be technically excellent but not engaged; one can be ethical but not excellent;, etc. It is a constant challenge to maintain all three Es. We have created a Good Work Toolkit to help educators attain and retain the capacity to carry out good work under challenging circumstances (see

We devoted a whole book to the question of what does it mean to be “responsible at work" (see Responsibility at Work). A good educator has a variety of responsibilities: to her students; to the subject matter or discipline; to the institution in which she teaches; to parents and colleagues; and to the broader society in which she lives. Of course, even to monitor these responsibilities can be overwhelming; and no one can possibly be equally responsible to all constituents at all times.  That said, if one develops good habits and routines, it is possible to be a responsible educator most of the time; and to marshal the special energies and reflection for those times, when the correct course of action is not clear, or when one is weighing one wrong against another wrong.

7. We live in a society dominated by the idea of science and technology and increasing globalization. In your text Five Minds for the Future, you outline five mind capabilities: discipline, synthesis, creativity, respect and ethics. How is it possible to "educate for the future,” integrating these principles?

A: In writing about "five minds," I was certainly keeping in mind the reality of globalization. Only individuals who have cultivated these kinds of minds are likely to thrive in a complex, interconnected and rapidly changing global world.

In directing the book toward educators, and also toward leaders in corporate and political institutions, I was trying to call attention to capacities that we take for granted (e.g. respect) as well as ones that we may not think much about (synthesizing, ethical choices). As with the Three Es of Good Work, it’s difficult to address all five minds; and yet the best educators and the best leaders never lose track of this quintet. And all of us, as workers and citizens, should attempt to keep these five minds in mind.

How does one synthesize or integrate these minds? In the book, I come to the conclusion that such synthesis is an individual project: no one can synthesize your five minds for you. Also there is inevitable tension across the minds:  respect can be in contention with ethics; discipline can pull in a different direction from creativity. And so, while synthesizing is usually thought of with respect to knowledge, this form of synthesis is an individual one, turned inward, and constantly being re-calibrated in light of our goals, values, and rapidly changing  national and international conditions.

8. In your recent book The App Generation, co-written with Katie Davis, you examine ideas of identity, intimacy and imagination in the adolescent population. To what degree do you feel today’s adolescent is dependent on digital life? What are the potentials and limits of digital technology as it regards adolescent development?

A: In every part of the world with which I am familiar, young people are completely immersed in the digital world—so much so, that it is inconceivable to them that they can, for long, be separated from their devices. Indeed, many of us who are not young, who are ‘digital immigrants’ rather than ‘digital natives,’ are also wedded to, if not dependent on, our digital devices.

The principal distinction in the book, written in collaboration with my wonderful former student Katie Davis, is between app-dependence and app-enablement. A person who is app-dependent is always searching for the best app; and as soon as its routine has been executed, the person searches for the next app. A person who is app-enabled also uses apps frequently. But he or she is never limited by the current array of apps; apps will free the person to do what he or she wants to do, or needs to do, irrespective of the next application of the app. An app-enabled person can also put devices away, without feeling bereft.

And best of all, persons can sometimes be app-transcendent: making dramatic progress or discoveries, without any dependence on any app. In this context, I like to mention Steve Jobs. While he had as much to do as anyone with the invention and development of apps, he NEVER was limited by the current technology—indeed, he typically transcended it and relied on his own considerable wits.

9. To celebrate your 70th birthday in 2013, Mindy Kornhaber and Ellen Winner invited 117 scholars and students to write something in your honor and you replied to each, resulting in the volume Mind, Work, and Life: A Festschrift on the Occasion of Howard Gardner's 70th Birthday. Reflecting on your own career, what recommendations and warnings do you have for young researchers just entering the field?

A: The Festschrift is among the highlights of my life—what a privilege to have such wonderful colleagues and friends, to eavesdrop on what they are thinking about my work and me, and to have the opportunity to respond to them. And, for extra credit, to be able to post the entire 1500 page document on my website.

I have been an incredibly fortunate person in every respect. From an early age, I wanted to search and to do research, and I’ve had the privilege of doing so. And so my primary piece of advice is this: “Go for it, but with your eyes wide open.”

To unpack this slogan: If you enjoy reading, writing, learning, and sharing what you have learned, don’t hesitate to look for a life where you can continue to do those things. It could be as a scientist, an educator, an editor, a journalist, the founder of an organization. You only live once, and it is a tragedy if you deny yourself these options without trying to pursue them.

But don’t assume that the way that one searches and researches is the same from one era to another—it isn’t. In the 19th century, most research was done by amateurs: either individuals who were rich or individuals who had a day job. In the 20th century, most researchers worked at universities or think tanks and received money from the government or from foundations to pursue their work. In our time, the sources of support and the locations for research may be quite different.

Also, distinguish between the work and the job title. When I was leaving school in the early 1970s, many people wanted to be journalists, carrying out investigative reporting for print newspapers. Print newspapers may not exist in twenty years. But good thinking and good writing about issues that need to be reported and investigated will always be needed; but where this happens, what it is called, and who pays for it may be quite different than could have been envisioned by the great journalists of the past.

10. This interview cannot end without a question about that regards our periodical, Teatri delle diversità (Theatre of diversities). From your unique vantage point, how has the concept or definition of “diversity” changed over the last 50 years? What types of diversity has the research traditionally focused on and what are the new horizions for educational research today? What role could theatre play in regard?

A: In the United States these days, ‘diversity’ is a big word and a buzzword. Sometimes, it refers primarily to racial diversity (primarily, black and white); often it refers to any kind of ethical or cultural diversity; but it can also refer to political diversity (left/right) or to sexual diversity (gay/straight).

There is no question that diversity is much more on the radar screen than it was when I went to school over fifty years ago. When I went to Harvard College, nearly everyone looked alike (white male); there were few individuals who were openly gay; and most of us had middle-of-the-road politics. Today, our campus could not be different in every respect.

Being aware of diversity is important, and we as a society (both national and global) have made important progressive strides in the last half century. The civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the gay rights movement have been amazingly successful in many places, though there is still much more that needs to be done.

At the risk of sounding a bit off-key, I think that we need to pay as much attention to ways in which, despite these differences, we share our humanity. This is not only because our genes are virtually identical; but because, as a planet, we are at risk of destruction (for example, gradually by the warming of the planet; or rapidly, by nuclear war or a pathogen that gets out of control). And these threats require us to work together, and not just to announce our diversity.

The wonderful thing about the theater is that it can emphasize BOTH our diversity AND our common humanity. In many ways, the world of Shakespeare (or Aeschylus or Racine) is totally different from our world; and yet any human being can look through the differences in dress and mores and discover our common problems, passions, and potentials.

Turkish Magazine Speaks with Gardner on Multiple Intelligences

In the summer of 2014, BUMED, the monthly alumni magazine of the Turkish school Boğaziçi University, interviewed Howard Gardner about his theory of multiple intelligences.

Drawing from a previous interview with the Israeli periodical Educational Echoes, Gardner discusses MI theory, its implications, and his ideas about educational policies.

Read the interview in it’s entirety here.

Tom Hoerr Interviews Howard Gardner about MI

In September 2014, Howard Gardner participated in an interview with Tom Hoerr, head of the New City School in St. Louis, MO, for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's Multiple Intelligences Network newsletter. In the interview, Gardner discusses a few current thoughts about multiple intelligences theory, including whether the number of intelligences could be expanded, the effect of technology on multiple intelligences, and the importance of character and values in education.

The text of the interview is reproduced below.

Tom Hoerr: You initially identified seven intelligences and then added the naturalist, and I’m wondering if there are other candidate intelligences which you are considering or which you considered and concluded not.

Howard Gardner: In putting forth the eight intelligences, I strictly applied the 8 criteria outlined in Chapter 4 of my 1983 book FRAMES OF MIND. As my interests have moved to other topics, I am no longer researching specific intelligences. What's important to me is that I've broken open the conversation about intelligence, and few educators still think that there is only one kind of intelligence.

That said, I continue to speak informally about existential intelligence, the intelligence that allows us to pose and ponder 'big questions"; and, more recently, pedagogical or teaching intelligence, the intelligence (which only human beings have) that allows us to teach something to a person who is less knowledgeable and skilled than we are.

I hereby give permission for anyone to speak informally about these intelligences. But I stop short of positing an endless string of new intelligences. Most candidates can be readily explained by the already posited intelligences.

Hoerr: Do technological advances change how you view MI being used in schools? To what degree might technology support students utilizing more of their intelligences?

Gardner: The new technologies are a boon for education that is individualized (taking into account what we know about each person) and pluralistic (presenting important ideas, concepts, theories, skills in multiple ways). Put differently, there is no longer any excuse for teaching a topic in one way, to all students, and penalizing those who don't happen to learn in that way. Ultimately, I think that the new and emerging technologies will speak to, and nurture, a wider range of intelligences. But any tool/technology can be misused, and so one could use apps simply to pursue "drill and kill" pedagogies.

Hoerr: You’ve written that the intelligences are amoral – they can be used to pursue good or evil ends – and you wisely reminded me that I should be talking about good grit, not just grit. What are your thoughts about the role of character and values in education?

Gardner: The older I get, the more convinced I am that character and values are and should be central in education. Our problem in the US is not a lack of the so-called 'best and brightest'; it is that so many of these people use their abilities for self aggrandizement or worse. I am all in favor of classes and exercises that engage students and teachers in discussions of purpose, values, morality, and ethics. The GoodWork Toolkit that we've devised can help in such discussions. But ultimately the most powerful influences are the behaviors of adults - teachers, parents, and older siblings and students - that are seen by younger persons. Show me an institution where the values are healthy, clear, transparent, and known, and I'll show you an institution that works well. Alas, there are not many role models around these days in the news, the media, the gossip circuit. That places an extra burden and challenge in our schools. (I invite readers to visit

Hoerr: Are you optimistic that schools in the U.S. will be able to move away from their focus on standardized test results?

Gardner: I would like to think that the limits of testing-testing-testing are beginning to be understood by the general public. The article by Rachel Aviv, in The New Yorker, about the organized cheating in Atlanta was a stunning indictment of a system that pressures teachers and students to achieve a certain cut-off score, rather than encouraging them to teach and learn well. But even if the standardized testing ardor wanes, it is not clear that something better will emerge. At least in independent schools, faculty and parents have more of a choice about when and how to assess student learning.