Specialization in the SAT: The Math Portion Should Only Test Math Skills

Notes by Howard Gardner

Standard tests of scholarship (including IQ tests) typically tap linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. In fact, students who are strong in these intelligences are likely to do well on tests, and in school. As long as they stay in school, they will think they are smart!

We now know that at the extremes of abilities, linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence are quite distinct.

In other words, having high linguistic intelligence does not predict high logical mathematical intelligence or vice versa.

As this article points out, it is very important not to confound these two forms of intelligence.  Accordingly, tests of mathematical intelligence are not reliable if they require linguistic sophistication.

If we feel the need to test for individual intelligences, we should make sure that we do so in as ‘pure’ a form as possible.

Proposal to Integrate Music and Math Education

Notes by Howard Gardner

As a serious lover of music (of various genres), I’m delighted when anyone recommend that musical thinking/ musical intelligence be part of school curricula. Indeed, it is tragic that in so many American schools, music (and other art forms) are the first to be marginalized—athletics almost never is!

As is argued in this article, music can often provide a promising ‘entry point’ to the understanding of various curricula—from mathematics to history to science.  And it can work especially well for those who are blessed with strong musical intelligence.

Yet, I get nervous when people suggest that we should use music instrumentally (no pun intended). We do not justify the teaching of mathematics just because it might heighten one’s musical intelligence. Once we use music only to raise math scores, music becomes vulnerable if we find another way to raise math scores even more.

Part of education should be the ability to appreciate and to create in various art forms.  Involvement with the arts enriches life. Ask anyone whose life is rich with the arts whether they would willingly give up the arts, and I guarantee that the answer is ‘no’. As far as they are concerned, as far as I am concerned, if the arts help with math or SAT scores, that’s just a bonus.