Game-Based Learning Program Helps Kids Find Their Dream Job

In September 2018, Dr. Howard Gardner received an email about Metier, a game-based learning program developed by teachers at Pillager Public Schools.  Metier uses MI concepts to help students find a career that aligns with their skills and their passions. Below is an introductory statement and video about Metier, followed by a brief response from Dr. Gardner.

Metier is a grades 5-9 experiential learning program that utilizes games to guide students in discovering the truest, happiest, and greatest versions of themselves and the career field that makes them come alive. These games allow students to uncover their state of flow, which is an optimal state of consciousness wherein you feel your best and perform your best. According to research, those with the most flow in their lives are the most satisfied with their lives. By monitoring what gets students into flow, including a self-awareness of their intelligences, we can help them find their Metier: the job and life they love and loves them back.

Watch an introductory video:

Notes by Howard Gardner

I was pleased to learn about the educational innovations that have been implemented by in the Metier program. I encounter many attempts to create educational programs associated with the idea of multiple intelligences, and this program is one of the most intriguing ones I've seen.

As I understand it, the architects of Metier have combined a focus on the intelligences favored by young people and the experiences that generate experiences of ‘flow’—that state of consciousness in which a person becomes completely absorbed in what he or she is doing and time flies by.  I’ve always felt a kinship with the ideas of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi—who developed the notion of flow in the 1980s—and in fact he and I have been colleagues since that time.

To the work on ‘MI’ and ‘flow’ I would now add the ideas of our valued colleague William (Bill) Damon. With Anne Colby and other colleagues, Bill describes the importance of a sense of purpose: the feeling of mission that motivates people of all ages, with that mission affecting more than one’s own pleasure—that is, a wider sense of purpose. As young people mature, it’s important that they do not only experience flow—but that they experience flow while carrying out work and play that serves others, including the wider community.  And so I hope that in the future, programs like Metier will encourage young people not only to ‘follow their bliss’ but to contribute to the bliss of others.

Study of Learning Disorders: Evidence for MI Theory?

study of the relationship between learning disorders and intellectual profiles, published in February 2017 in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, lends further empirical support to the theory of multiple intelligences.

Written by Enrico Toffalini, David Giofrè, and Cesare Cornoldi, the study sampled over 1,000 children diagnosed with specific learning disorders, revealing partial differences in intellectual profiles between subgroups.

Gardner commented on this finding, saying:

This large study of students with specific learning disabilities provides evidence for distinct multiple intelligences. Each of the four profiles has a revealing mixture of strengths and weaknesses. The study is especially notable because it focuses on difficulties in school—an institution which typically valorizes only linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. One can readily assume that if one looks across the range of profiles of strengths and weaknesses, both in and outside of school, equally distinctive profiles would emerge.

A PDF of the article is available here via the Association for Psychological Science.

Howard Gardner Interviewed by Esther Cepeda Regarding Learning Styles

In November, Howard Gardner was interviewed by journalist Esther Cepeda regarding his views on 'learning styles'. Below is the final result of that interview.

The original post can be read here.


Esther Cepeda: Teachers must let go of the ‘learning styles’ myth

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The education industry is nothing if not trend-driven, and sometimes fads manage to calcify into indisputable “facts” that spur backlash when challenged.

Take the mini-revolt over the recent boomlet of myth-busting news articles about “learning styles,” the theory that some people learn better through movement, others through reading or listening and so on.

Just post links to Quartz’s “The concept of different ‘learning styles’ is one of the greatest neuroscience myths” or New York Magazine’s “One Reason the ‘Learning Styles’ Myth Persists” on your Facebook timeline and watch otherwise gentle, openhearted educators descend into bitter disputes about the challenges of being an auditory learner in a text-rich society.

My first brush with the “learning styles” credo was in a graduate-level education program that promoted it as an article of faith for any new teacher.

A decade later, not teaching for different learning styles is considered akin to educational malpractice. Some educators believe that not presenting every concept to students in each of the many styles—kinesthetic, visual, auditory—is nothing short of bigotry because it discriminates against those who don’t learn in “traditional” ways.

Students have internalized this responsibility-absolving mantra through the years. I spent this past fall semester in a music theory course at my local community college with young adults who unfailingly challenged our professor’s classroom instruction, homework and tests with “learning style” complaints.

If we were doing aural training, someone would whine about being a visual learner. The written tests were “too hard” for the kinesthetic learners because they weren’t good at writing on paper, and so on. It was ridiculous—we were, after all, in a music class where reading, writing and listening to music were required, and had been clearly articulated in the course description.

I’m too jaded about how tenaciously educators cling to their dogmas to believe that the overemphasis on differentiated learning styles will soon recede from practice. The “everybody’s special” ethos of teacher education tends to treat the “learning styles” theory as though a student’s preferred method of processing new information automatically makes him or her incapable of learning through any other means. It is heartening to see attempts at dismantling the legend.

“Over and over, researchers have failed to find any substantive evidence for the notion of learning styles, to the point where it’s been designated a ‘neuromyth’ by some education and psychology experts,” writes Jesse Singal in a recent issue of New York Magazine.

The reason the myth lives on, according to Christian Jarrett in Wired magazine, is the educational-industrial complex.

“It is propagated not only in hundreds of popular books,” Jarrett wrote, “but also through international conferences and associations, by commercial companies who sell ways of measuring learning styles, and in teacher-training programs.”

Howard Gardner, who over 30 years ago did groundbreaking research on the notion of multiple intelligences—which include logical-mathematical, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal, spatial and others, which all work in concert—has gone out of his way to differentiate his work from the shorthand of “learning styles.”

On The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, Gardner wrote, “If people want to talk about ‘an impulsive style’ or ‘a visual learner,’ that’s their prerogative. But they should recognize that these labels may be unhelpful, at best, and ill-conceived at worst.”

When I spoke to Gardner about the danger of using his research and the now-ubiquitous “learning styles” as a crutch for students or an excuse for teachers to not push students to perform up to their potential, he said: “I’m against uniform schools. And everybody’s got his or her own way of learning, but we’re not going to expect all schools to accommodate them all.

“There has to be a middle ground. We don’t want to make every student learn in the same way, but we also don’t want to encourage students to not have to stretch out of their comfort zone and show some grit. The way I would put it is that kids should get as much help as they need to learn, but not one whit more.”

Teachers are well meaning, but buying into the “learning styles” myth has not been definitively shown to improve educational outcomes. So let it die already. Rather than waste valuable time trying to cater to every possible learning preference, teachers would do better to help all students develop a full range of skills and competencies.


Esther J. Cepeda is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group. Her email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter, @estherjcepeda.

This article originally appeared on http://www.gazettextra.com/.