The list of academic awards on developmental psychologist Professor Howard Gardner’s CV is long, very long. From the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 1981, through 31 honorary degrees to more recent awards highlighting his role as an influential thinker in a number of fields, including business and ethics.
The John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Research Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he has written 30 books and several hundred articles and is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences (MI). After spending time working with both brain-damaged adults and gifted children in the late 1970s/early 1980s, he challenged the notion that there is a single human intelligence that can be measured by a standard IQ test. Instead he proposed that we all have a number of intelligences and we can be strong in some and weaker in others. These intelligences include linguistic, visual, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal – the ability to know yourself.
The multiple intelligences theory transformed the fields of psychology and education and has gone on to be applied in many countries and in many different ways – some right and some wrong, according to Gardner, 76, who recently set up the Multiple Intelligences Oasis website to provide clarity on the theory. Meanwhile he has branched out in other directions and since the mid-1990s been director of The Good Project, which prepares students to become good workers and citizens, contributing to the overall wellbeing of society.
Here he shares his wisdom on how to survive – and thrive – in the 21st century: