That's Not How You Do It!

Ask any student at any grade level and he or she has heard that statement at some point. Grown ups aren't exempt either. But how do you do "it"... whatever "it" is; whether a math problem, reading problem, physical activity or playing a musical instrument. Early educators believed there was only one way to learn; that intelligence was an inherited single component and that all humans could be taught as long as it was presented in an appropriate way: screaming "that's not how you do it" is generally considered an inappropriate way.  That is what educators believed. Then along came Howard Gardner. Even back when I was in the education curriculum in the 1970's, Gardner's new theory of "multiple intelligences" was the buzz. Howard Gardner initially formulated a list of seven intelligences. The first two are what had previously been the focus and valued components in schools (linguistic intelligence and logical-mathematical) the next 3 have to do with the arts (musical. bodily-kinesthetic and spatial) and the final two are what Howard Gardner called 'personal intelligences' (interpersonal and intrapersonal). To be sure, it was a revolutionary way of considering how human beings learn and for those children who have been the recipients of this philosophy, they have truly benefited from Dr. Gardner's work.

But he isn't done yet! Now Dr. Gardner has expanded his teachings to go beyond how we learn to what we need to learn. Five Minds for the Future is the new book and the topic of his presentation on October 29 at New Trier High School. Dr. Gardner asserts that to prepare students for the future, educators need to cultivate both academic skills and character. Parents and teachers alike would agree that these disciplines seem quite obvious. But unless there is intentionality about the integration into the educational process, it may not happen. Or it will happen sporadically, at best. Having witnessed the paradigm shift when the Multiple Intelligences approach was implemented in schools, I am very excited to learn more about Dr. Gardner's Five Minds for the Future campaign. 

In his Five Minds Dr Gardner presents the first three as they relate to intellect; disciplined, synthesizing and creative minds. The last two emphasize character: the respectful and ethical minds. Gardner believes that "as the world we inhabit continues to change, educators must frequently reevaluate the goals of education and the type of minds we wish to cultivate".  Academic achievement is an important goal for K-12 education but we must not loose sight of the other important components of a future-oriented education. We are blessed to live in a community where academic success is the norm. We have terrific schools, outstanding teachers and beautiful facilities. The second two components of Gardner's new approach are what I am committed to in the Sunday School program and All Things Bright and Beautiful. As I mentioned before, it requires intentionality. As teachers, we recognize the importance of fostering respectfulness among students. (the Gardner distinguishes real respect from mere tolerance of differences. Cultivating respect and emotional and interpersonal intelligence among students, teachers, and the greater school community are essential goals. We've seen it here in this parish and in the Episcopal Church in this country. When points of view differ, solutions for a task or project are not always on the same page, the respect with which we treat each other is key in the resolution.  In a world where diversity of perspective is a fact of life, it is how we meet those challenges that measure our true character. I am so grateful for this community where respectful and ethical minds prevail and confirm that IS how you do it!