Thinking about Thinking about Howard Gardner

Gary Stager.… has an interesting blog worth checking out. His commentary on Howard Gardner is thought provoking – “Is Howard Gardner the most misunderstood and misappropriated educationalist (his preferred term) in the world today or he just the only theorist most educators have heard of?”

Also I very much appreciate his shout out to my book, MI@25 which he describes as ‘an incredibly important and sadly overlooked anthology”.

Thinking about Thinking about Howard Gardner


MIDAS in Netherlands – Onward!



MIDAS continues to blossom in the Netherlands    Thanks to the efforts and creative thinking of many inspired people – including

Haiko Jessurun, Helga Hohn, Frits Schoeren and others!

Also be sure to look for Celebrate 2.0 in Delft on Oct. 10, 2018 where I will be the Key Note speaker.

Read about our aMI networking day on Nov. 25, 2017.

New Developments-aMI_News

Exploring Careers with Jenny

The following client sketch is provided by Joe Casey of Casey Consulting, Ireland,

Jenny is an 18-year-old who loves sport. She is very involved in hurling and football at club and county level with county and All-Ireland under 16 minor hurling medals.
She’s also heavily involved with venture Scouts, is a scout leader and loves interacting with others. She was a big reader but is less so in recent years. Jenny also liked to argue and was involved with a young entrepreneurs venture at school – apparently they had very good sales, with a large margin.

Jenny’s MIDAS profile (see below) showed her highest scale scores as Kinaesthetic, Linguist and Interpersonal and lowest as Naturalistic. These and her top Skills of Athleticism, Effectiveness, Rhetoricical, Persuasion, Reading/Writing, seemed to perfectly correspond with the activities she devotes most of her time to.

As we explored all university and career options Jenny showed a preference for studying subjects such as economics, business, psychology, philosophy, law and possibly even medicine (although she didn’t find the lifestyle appealing, and her Science skill was among her lowest on the scale). Once we had delved into each of these in detail, covering what she’d learn and the skills she’d use/develop Jenny subsequently indicated a preference for studies in Law or Business & Law.

It appears that the MIDAS mirrored Jenny’s understanding of herself and how she’d like to develop for the next phase of her life.

MIDAS in India – FindYourFit

A recent article by Jitendra Sandu in Silicon India StartUP City magazine describes how his company, FindYourFit uses MIDAS to help employers find the right people.

“FindYourFit is a social recruitment company focused on connecting international jobseekers with suitable employers. In addition to technical capabilities, it emphasizes the alignment of an employee’s personality, values, and interests with an organization’s culture, goals, strategy, and values.”

Read full article here. Silicon India_Best_Start_Ups

MI@35 at ASCD Conference

Armstrong, Hoerr, Shearer, Gardner

ASCD Conference, March 24, Boston, MA

I was privileged to present at the recent ASCD conference in Boston with three of my personal heroes: Howard Gardner, Thomas Armstrong, and Tom Hoerr. About 130 people attended our session titled, Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom After 35 Years.  Read more here on Dr. Gardner’s website:  OASIS- MI




The Tug of War is Over!

The war of words between psychologists over the nature of human intelligence is over

Branton Shearer < excerpted 12/12/17 >

A scientific puzzle is solved. The debate is over. For 35 years teachers, students and parents have been stuck in the middle of the war of words between psychologists regarding the nature of human intelligence. Neuroscience evidence now builds a coherent bridge between IQ and multiple intelligences. This battle among theorists has resulted in confusion and unhappy compromises as teachers struggle to serve two masters. On the one side are IQ-ists who argue that intelligence is unitary and only associated with academic skills (reading, math and such). These folks advocate for a standardized curriculum emphasizing basic skills development. On the other side are advocates for personalized instruction based on the idea of multiple intelligences. They argue that human intelligence cannot be summed up with a single number and that student learning will increase with differentiated instruction that emphasizes strength-based activities.

Multiple Intelligences theory describes eight forms of intelligence possessed by all people but with varying levels of skill and ability. The eight intelligences are Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical (associated with general intelligence and academic success), Visual-Spatial, Kinesthetic, Musical, Naturalist, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal [3]. Since 1983, schools and teachers around the world have been striving to find the best ways of using MI theory to enhance education.

Of particular concern are the large numbers of students who are marginalized as a result of being stigmatized by simplistic labels such as “merely average,” or “below average,” or “not very bright.” On the flip side are students with highly developed skills that go unrecognized, unappreciated, or denigrated because they don’t fit into the academic hierarchy. No room for creativity on tests of intelligence or math skills.

This debate is not merely an arid academic question among ivory towered grey beards. Millions of dollars are paid out to the winners. Careers are wrecked or made; egos bruised or acclaimed. This conflict is most keenly felt in the schools and classrooms as teachers plan lessons and curriculum designers organize their priorities. Students and parents are casualties of the conflict, too. Parents preside over the “homework wars” as students wrestle with worksheets and perplexing projects.

There is something appealing about the simplicity of the IQ score (as a measure of general intelligence, also called g by psychologists). Unfortunately, like most simplistic labels it is simply not true that a person’s intellectual potential can be neatly fit into the box like someone’s shirt size. The human brain resists being carved up into neat categories because it is a massively interconnected and always changing and growing organ.

Five investigations involving more than 500 neuroscience studies lead to the conclusion that each intelligence possesses its own unique neural architecture. What is the relationship between IQ and MI? In 1983, Howard Gardner explained that general intelligence is comprised of the Logical-mathematical and Linguistic intelligences. This theory is supported by the neuroscience evidence because IQ is associated with nearly the exact same neural structures as those two intelligences.

The debate is not MI vs. IQ but rather how can we use a multiple intelligences understanding of each student to build the academic skills associated with IQ? MI does not minimize the importance of skills such as reading, attention to detail, logical thinking, and mathematics. Of course, those are important skills. But for artists they are no more important than imagination, spatial awareness, and intuition. Only when we understand each person’s unique profile of strengths can we devise strategies to maximize their development and build or manage weaknesses. IQ-based limitations are not to be avoided but instead creatively addressed by leveraging strengths in the service of whole brain development. This is not a dry theoretical argument but instead a practical approach to developing human potential.

To read the full article email:


Lessons from Neuroscience for Teachers and Schools

How the Multiple Intelligences Can Enhance Education

Guided by Big Ideas from Neuroscience

< excerpted 12-12-17 >

Branton Shearer

Every classroom is its own culture. Students walk in with their brains murmuring unspoken questions: Will I belong here? Will I be successful? Will the teacher like me? As their leader you are charged with creating the class culture so that it is welcoming to all and conducive to high performance. Culture can be defined as shared ideas, values, beliefs, and practices [1]. A sense of belonging is fundamental for individuals to perform at their best. Consider the discomfort of the art student in the calculus class or the engineering student in drama class. Or the star quarterback in speech class who turns bright red when it’s his time to speak. The challenge is to create the culture where all students can engage and make progress towards the learning objectives. The key question is, How will each student strive towards those goals in the best way possible?

Researchers in neuroscience labs around the world are daily generating a wealth of data with varying degrees of applicability to the educator’s job. This article highlights how the multiple intelligences can be deployed in classrooms guided by neuroscience to bring out the best in all students. We will review several Big Ideas and practices.

Multiple Intelligences theory describes eight forms of intelligence possessed by all people but with varying levels of skill and ability. The eight intelligences are Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical (associated with general intelligence and academic success), Visual-Spatial, Kinesthetic, Musical, Naturalist, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal [3]. Since 1983, schools and teachers around the world have been striving to find the best ways of using MI theory to enhance education.

The first Big Idea is that Culture Matters. This means that the school / classroom culture influences the quality of the student’s thinking and performance. The main take-away is that the teacher cannot take for granted that students are completely autonomous learners. They depend upon you to create the highest quality culture to enhance thinking, motivation, and effective performance.

The second Big Idea is that Every Brain is Unique—Activate Strengths! in the service of learning and maximum performance. As teachers we often fall into the narcissistic fallacy believing that everyone thinks like we do and this is the best (only) way to work. As we look out onto the sea of faces we need to remember that each brain is as different as their faces. We can be overwhelmed by these vast differences or we can keep in mind the simple dictum, Look for the Strengths. Ask yourself, How can strengths be activated to maximize success?

The third key idea is that all learning begins with the self. The ancient Greeks knew the fundamental value of self-knowledge and carved the words γνῶθι σεαυτόν (Know Thyself) over the entrance to the temple of Delphi where kings and generals came seeking wisdom.

Embodied Cognition and the Emotional Rudder sums up the findings that it is a mistake to undervalue the role of the body and feelings to enhance learning. We have come a long way from the day where we believed that feelings were separate from thinking. Or that the mind is somehow detached from the body.

Make it Mean Something! No learning that will last takes place without meaning. A simple example is that you will remember many more words when they are presented in a meaningful way rather than at random. When you are presenting a new or difficult concept to students you often hear the question, Will this be on the test?  Rather than being exasperated by this question (for the millionth time) keep in mind that just beneath this query may lurk a number of deeper concerns: Does this make sense to me? Is this of value to adults in my world?

Neuroscience principles can guide the use of the multiple intelligences at all levels of the school experience for students. Of course, teachers can design instruction around the eight MI. Guidance counselors use MI to focus students’ attention on their strengths that are matched with career paths. School psychologists look at learning disabilities in a new light. And tutors can help students activate their strengths to memorize, understand, and use new ideas and skills. The goal is to use strengths to enhance motivation and cognitive engagement in order to leverage achievement and improve limitations.

To read the full paper send a request to:














Teachers’ Cues, Subtle or Not, Shape Students’ Experiences

Three children holding hands with a teacher

This interview in Education Week, June, 2017 with Dena Simmons highlights the impact of the classroom culture on students.

Her comments highlight social acceptance and echo the work of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang on social-emotional brain development. Simmons comments on the importance of social acceptance for students with different socio-economic backgrounds but I think they also apply to students with MI profiles that differ from what the teacher values in the classroom.



“If students don’t’ feel like they belong to their school environment, they can feel like impostors….That feeling can create fear and anxiety that hijack students’ learning experiences or lead them to believe they are not capable of success….”


Education Week, online, June 21, 2017



Smart Phones stunting speech?

An article in The Week highlighted research into young children’s use of smartphones and the impact on speech development.

“Young children who use smartphones and tablets are more likely to suffer speech development delays….”

“Parents aren’t talking to their children….You learn speech from parents.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children under 18 months be given NO SCREEN time at all, apart from video-chatting with family, and that 18 – 24 month olds be limited to “high-quality programming.”

To read more:


Academic Testing: What good does it do?

Three articles in Education Week, Washington Post and Educational Researcher recently caught my attention regarding  academic testing and the “accountability movement.”  It seems odd to me that we are still arguing about the effectiveness of high-stakes testing after two decades of testing has had ZERO positive impact on schools. Very odd, indeed. When will we learn?  Maybe that’s the question that should be on THE TEST for any politician running for office.


The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better. by Daniel Koretz

“Because many people have been pretending that test-based accountability has been working as promised. Faced with pressure to raise scores, many educators cut corners, and one result was badly inflated score gains. Some cheated, but much of the fake improvement has been produced by bad test prep that isn’t considered cheating. … So time after time, we have had proclamations of success, but it’s often a sham.”

“Policymakers have ignored the fact that tests capture only some of what we want students to accomplish and even less of what we want schools to do… Inflated scores don’t provide a trustworthy indicator of what students actually learn.”

Read it here:

Buy the book here:


Does test Preparation Mean Low-Quality Instruction? by David Blazar and Cynthia Pollard

“…efforts to improve standards and tests were insufficient conditions for increasing teaching quality.  … improving teaching and learning required coherence among the tests and several other policy instruments, including curricula and opportunities for high-quality professional development…

“…positioning testing and new assessments as the primary solution to instructional ills may distract from more comprehensive efforts to elevate teaching in U.S. classrooms.”

Read it Here:


We Made This Too Hard   by Jenny Froehle

“The idea that learning should be designed with a clear goal was, and still is, a good one… but basing lessons on lists of knowledge and skills, then measuring those skills to death for 13 years in discrete pieces that never seem to thread back together into any recognizable meaningful whole? That idea backfired on us.”

“As educators, we know it is past time for us to free learning from this constraining cocoon of regulatory nonsense. The world is complex; problems do not come packaged simply. Only practice with complexity can provide the experience our children need to survive in the unpredictable world ahead … ”

Read it:   We Made This Too Hard, by Jenny Froehle, Nov. 29, 2017