Thursday, December 1, 2011

Howard Gardner L&B Keynote

Howard Gardner
The Five Minds for the Future: What they are; How to nurture them

Five Minds do not = 8, 8 ½, or 9 intelligences
The ‘hat’ of the psychologist is not the same as the ‘hat’ of the policy maker

Minds of the future is a speculation on the capacities that may be important in/for the future. There’s nothing sacrosanct about the list – people could put forth other ideas about what minds are important

The Future of Learning: Four Mega-trends
- Globalization
- The Biological Revolution
- The Digital Revolution
- Lifelong Learning
We need to be thinking about the implications of those mega-trends for education

Globalization: We are no longer a bunch of disparate countries and islands. We are connected through the Internet, brands, financial transactions. Finances are global, and reverberations are felt worldwide.

The Biological Revolution: I’m not sure any educator should do anything radically different today based on what we know about the brain and genetics. But tomorrow, we will be doing things differently. We need to be able to separate out the claims that have scientific warrant and those that are just somebody spinning wheels. But we do need to be aware of what’s going on and monitor it carefully.

The Digital Revolution: Tech is ubiquitous and often perplexing. Virtual reality, multi-user games, social networking. It’s not just information sources at your fingertips, it’s knowing how to evaluate them – this is serious. Twitter: I’m not sure that you can say anything of value in 140 characters, but we do need to be aware of technologies and how kids are using them.

“There are two kinds of people in the world: those who belong to Facebook, and liars.” Ditto for Wikipedia.

Lifelong Learning: The whole notion that education is K-12 or K-16 is completely anachronistic. Any professional must continue to learn throughout their active lives. The traditions of the past – following parents into careers, keeping the same career for your whole life – is over.

The Disciplined Mind
- Working steadily and improving
- Becoming an expert in a profession, craft, art, or end up unemployed or working for someone who is an expert (the task of work)
- Learning major ways of thinking: historical, artistic, scientific, mathematical (the task of school)

Nowadays, if you want to have a job (especially one that doesn’t require you taking orders from someone) you have to become an expert in something.

The Disciplines of School
- Science (correlation not same as causation; matters of evidence vs. faith, opinion)
- History (role of human agency, no experiments possible, avoid presentism, each generation rewrites)
- Mathematics (beyond formulas, engage in discovery)
- Beyond high school – economics, psychology, etc.
- And, of course, professions are disciplines, too
- Each discipline features its own METHODS – at a time of an information glut, methods become essential.
For example, Science and History approach information very differently and ask very different questions. You can look up stuff and subject matter on your smart phone, but learning how to think like a disciplinarian takes a long time and I don’t think it can be learned online (although maybe parts of it can). You can’t look these up on your smart phone.

If we’re just conveying stuff, we can just use a device. But if we’re conveying the methods of a discipline, that’s a real gift.

- What’s your discipline? What’s its method? How do you convey it to someone else?

The Synthesizing Mind
- Scads of information, especially on the web
- Largely undigested and unevaluated
- The synthesizing imperative
- Good, bad, and “so-so” syntheses
- Psychology (my discipline) has dropped the ball
Charles Darwin is an example of an outstanding synthesizer. Spent years traveling the world and taking notes, then 20 years trying to figure out those notes. The result was the explanation of the origin of life.

With “scads” of info, undigested and unevaluated, we have a synthesizing imperative. If you don’t have criteria and you can’t put the material together in a way that makes sense to you, how can you teach? Your students will not be able to learn anything of complexity.

Towards Synthesis
- Goal – what will the final synthesis be like?
- Starting point (includes earlier synthesis)
- Gathering the relevant information, not too judgmentally
- Method, strategy (e.g., narratives, taxonomies, equations, maps, metaphors, images, systems, systems of systems, embodiments)
- First rough draft
- Feedback of various sorts
- Your best synthesis, pro tem – just in time
- Repeat, with variation, till it has become routine.
As educators, we do a great disservice if we tell our students one way to synthesize. We need to offer a menu of synthesizing options and allow students to choose one – or even create one – that works for them. And you should get the synthesis done in time to run it by other people! We need to be more reflective about synthesis than we have to this point. This may be the most important mind for the future.

Reflection: How do you synthesize? Could you help someone else (or yourself) become a better synthesizer?

The Creating Mind (examples Einstein, Virginia Wolfe)
- Mastering a more discipline-10 years?
- Synthesizing what is known (the box itself)
- Going beyond the known – thinking outside the box, an imperative in the computer (algorithmic, ‘app’) age
- Good questions, new questions
- Robust, iconoclastic temperament
- The ultimate judgment of ‘the field’
You can’t think outside the box without the box! And the box is discipline and synthesizing. Without knowing what came before, your chances of making something new are very small.

Creativity is as much about temperament as it is about cognition. Creativity is open to everybody, but there are never going to be steps. Willingness to take a chance, fail, and pick yourself up and try again or try something else. And as soon is something is discovered anywhere, it circulates the globe. And people who are younger and gustier are going to be competing against those who are “older and wiser”

Reflection: Should American schools cultivate creativity? If so, how? Or are there sufficient lessons about creativity ‘on the streets’, in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and (alas) Wall Street?

Do we provide a place and resources? The problem in America is not a lack of creativity – it’s all over. So should students get out there?

There’s too much of a belief in error-free learning in some cultures.

The Mini-Elevator Mini-Speech (The tweet about the first three minds)
- Depth (Disciplined)
- Breadth (Synthesis of multiple sources)
- Stretch (Creative – go beyond)

The Respectful Mind
Easy to describe, but anything-but-easy to achieve. To understand others’ perspectives, motivation, etc.
- Diversity as a fact of life, at home and abroad
- Beyond mere tolerance
- Need to understand others – perspectives, motivation – emotional and interpersonal intelligence – “empathy schools”
- Inappropriateness of ‘corporate, top-down model’ for schools and perhaps even for corporations!
I go to schools all over the world and can tell very quickly if there is an air of respect in the school. How are disturbances handled? In a world with 7 billion people, if we don’t evince respect, that’s going to be extremely difficult. Even people who loath Barack Obama do see him as a person who is respectful.

You don’t get credit for respect if you
- Kiss up, kick down (scrape to your superiors and abuse your subordinates)
- Laugh at bad jokes (scapegoating and stereotyping)
- Mere tolerance (diversity calls us beyond mere tolerance to a need to understand others)
- Respect with too many conditions
Respect is evident in casual interactions. Do individuals strive for conciliation?

There are some encouraging models in the world of groups who have fought but found some success in coming to a reconciliation
- Commissions on Peace and Reconciliation (more than two dozen countries)
- Barenboim-Said Middle Eastern Orchestra
- Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project (intercultural penetration, transmission, syncretism)
- Rx-establish respectful institutional culture – especially important if messages at home, on the street, in the media, are contrary. You can’t just say, “We have no room for disrespect here.”

Reflection: What determines an atmosphere of respect or disrespect in a school? How can it be maintained and improved?

The Ethical Mind
- Higher level of abstraction than respectful mind
- Conceptualizing oneself as a (good) worker
- Conceptualizing oneself as a (good) citizen
- Acting appropriately in both roles
- How this plays out in an educational community
We determine who we are by the roles that we play. Teacher, writer, researcher, citizen. We are all citizens of the world now. If I drive a car that burns a lot of fuel, I am contributing to global warming. That is not being a good citizen. The ethical mind doesn’t talk about you and how you deal with your family and neighbors, it’s about you as a worker and a citizen (multiple levels of this). It begins with thinking about yourself, but in the end it’s about how you act, and the ethical person acts responsibly and with the highest aspirations.

Three Es of Good Work
- Excellent, expert, high quality
- Ethical, socially responsible, moral
- Engaging – meaningful, intrinsically motivated
ENA – three strands intertwined of Excellence, Ethics, and Engaging (see crummy photo) It takes all three for work to be “good”

Imagine: you are a history teacher who has just been given a new curriculum and you do not agree with it. Not motivating, not important, not a good use of time. This is an ethical dilemma.

A Study of Good Work in Youth
With disturbing results…
Compromised Work in American Youth
- Students/young workers know the “right thing to do”
- Some do it
- But too many deceive others and themselves – why should I be more ethical than my peers seem to be?
- Is it enough to intend to use proper means in the future?
Can’t be ethical and compete. We’ll be ethical when we reach the top. The ends justify the means.

‘Giving Away’ Good Work – Our effort to encourage ethics in the US
- Traveling curriculum in journalism
- Toolkit being used in American secondary schools and colleges (liked by teachers as well as students) e.g. newspaper, engineering, theater
- Courses at graduate level (“Good work in the global context” “Good work in Education”
- Reflection sessions at Colby, Amherst, Harvard Colleges – baggage, messages, first paragraph
- “Beyond fear and greed” to trust and inspiration
Unless you live as a hermit, you are depending on others to be good workers. And if you aren’t being one, you’re a freeloader.

Occupy movement at least suggests young people are beginning to think about important ideas

Is WikiLeaks a good thing because it reveals government secrets? Or is it a bad thing because it makes private things public and compromises security?

Educator’s “Solution”
Creation of a ‘commons’ where students, teachers, staff can reflect on dilemmas and how they could best be solved and lessons learned – old and young cooperate
We need to have spaces – face-to-face and online – where people can talk about the ethical dilemmas they are facing or have faced and ask opinions about solutions. Not anonymously, but with your own name. No rumor, no anonymity – you don’t know what’s true and what’s not! If you believe at all in reason, sometimes you can come up with better solutions if you put your heads together than you can by yourself.

Reflection: Could you set up a ‘commons’ in your school, college, organization? How would you do/accomplish this? What are the benefits, pitfalls, etc.?

Five Minds in a Digital Age
- Discipline – depth could lose out to breadth – can one learn metho online or is offline apprenticeship essential?
- Synthesis – can one organize the deluge of information? What kinds of aids to synthesis will be developed? Will they be Procrustean or liberating?
- Creativity – web 2.0 and 3.0 are promising, but many young people are risk averse and careerist
- Respectful/Ethical – perhaps to inner circle but not necessarily to the wider community, how to become a ‘cyber citizen’ mastering the ethics of roles. “Good Play” initiative. Nobody can know for sure what will happen to your online information, and that raises issues of respect and ethics that we have never had before.

The Figure-Ground Struggle Going on Today
Painting – girl in front, background behind.
In Education going forward, what will be the figure? Test scores and country rankings or The kind of individuals we nurture and the kind of society we create. The figure should be good workers and good citizens. Almost all of the trouble the US has gotten into – and its been self-inflicted – has come from the best and the brightest. If you believe that education is more than test scores or country rankings than we will follow MLK and RWE:

“Intelligence plus character…” MLK, Jr.
“Character is more important than intellect.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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