Learn More About Howard Gardner
It is one thing to have data help us understand the world, but quite another to have it run the world. According to renowned developmental and cognitive psychologist Howard Gardner, esteemed father of multiple intelligences theory and Research Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, data exist to serve humans, not vice versa. The true value is determined by how these data are interpreted and used by humans.
Gardner’s widely respected, decades-old teachings are even more relevant today as decision makers in every area of society – from business and government leaders to educators and parents – try to figure out the best ways to teach, learn and solve problems in a world that tempts us to surrender human thinking to machines.
“If you feed deep learning algorithms lots of information, they’ll make sense of it,” says Gardner. “But from an analytic standpoint, this begs two questions. What are you asking of these algorithms and, from an ethical point of view, do you want to embrace the answer that comes out?”
Weaving its way through Gardner’s storied and eclectic career as a tireless researcher, speaker and educator is a sense of how we understand and value the vast capabilities of the human mind. When Gardner first introduced his groundbreaking theory of multiple intelligences more than 30 years ago, he revolutionized the fields of education and psychology. After decades of studying the minds of others, Gardner turned the lens inward in his 2020 book “A Synthesizing Mind: A Memoir from the Creator of the Multiple Intelligences Theory” (MIT Press), examining his own intellectual path from childhood to the present with characteristic curiosity, humility and detached observation.
Gardner says his mind has always “wandered widely.” To date he has studied arts, intelligence, creativity, leadership, morality, ethics and K-12 and higher education with a research style he describes as somewhere between journalism on one hand, and experimental social science on the other. His method involves exhaustively gathering and distilling information of all sorts, looking at it from a human perspective, and identifying what it means for people and society. In doing so, he calls on each of us to consult our own intelligences when it comes to interpreting machine thinking.
That same kind of rigor went into preparations for Gardner’s next book co-authored with Wendy Fischman, “The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be” (MIT Press, March 2022), which will be informed by a long-running study he and his colleagues conducted as part of The Good Project, a research collaborative he co-founded in 1996. Attempting to make sense of the pros and cons of today’s higher education system, the book will reveal the results of individual one-hour interviews with over 2,000 individuals at ten different institutions. As social scientists, using both quantitative and qualitative analyses, Gardner and Fischman present the empirical evidence — ”the real world” — which goes beyond the headlines and in some cases challenges them. Then, they transition to the role of advisers, offering recommendations to individual colleges, the various constituencies, and the sector as a whole.
In addition to teaching, writing and juggling multiple research projects, Gardner shares his expertise with organizations across the world through keynotes and consulting. In an era when humans and machines are increasingly becoming “co-workers” and organizations are looking for more ethical ways of doing business, Gardner’s work will continue to shine a light on a better way – one that values the real driver of success: the human mind.
“Doing things a new way is easy. We call this novelty,” Gardner explains. “More challenging is a new way that gets accepted by others. We call this creativity. Even more challenging is a new way that is ethical and advances the human condition. We call this ‘good work.’”
Dr. Howard Gardner has authored several hundred articles and over 30 books, including “Leading Minds” (2011), “Five Minds for the Future” (2009), “Changing Minds” (2006), “The Disciplined Mind” (2000) and, more recently, “The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World” (2013). His intellectual memoir, “A Synthesizing Mind” was published in 2020.
Repeatedly recognized as one of the 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines, Professor Gardner has earned numerous honors, including a MacArthur Prize Fellowship and John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences, and he was the first American to receive the University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Award in Education. He was also named to the American Management Association’s Top 30 Leaders in Business of 2014 list. Most recently, Professor Gardner was the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award from the American Educational Research Association. He has received honorary degrees from 31 colleges and universities, including institutions in Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, South Korea and Spain. Professor Gardner has also been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Education and the London-based Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. He has served on a number of boards, including that of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
For more than two decades, Professor Gardner has co-directed the GoodWork Project, now a component of the larger Good Project, a large-scale, non-profit effort to identify and study individuals and institutions whose high social and ethical standards of excellence serve as a model for good work. More recently, he has conducted reflection sessions designed to enhance the understanding and incidence of good work among young people and he is also investigating the ethical dimensions of new digital media.
Professor Gardner’s other research efforts include a major study of liberal arts and sciences in the 21st century.
Howard Gardner (and select colleagues) are available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Headshot Photo Credit: Harvard Graduate School of Education