EDUC 902: Gardner’s The Disciplined Mind

A reflection on Howard Gardner's "The Disciplined Mind" for EDUC 902. For more information, see this linked post.


I’m not sure what all of the fuss is about. Specifically, the exchange between Gardner and Hirsch regarding their positions about the purpose and aim of schooling (which is what the book is really about -- schooling, not education). I really wanted to find something to pick at, something to critique with Gardner’s approach. But I’ve got nothing. I could pick apart his argument grounded within an educational/developmental psychologism where epistemology with a capital T reigns supreme or that the language he uses to describe very tentative conclusions drawn from mind/brain is a little too saviour-esque for me. But beyond the psycho-babble, I ultimately agree with his basic ideas about teaching. Engage folks, help them understand, offer them and request from them different ways to show their understanding. Seems quite simple - and more importantly - I can easily see myself and my teaching within this framework. I think why I’m stumped is because it does seem so simple. It even reminds me of another guy who likes to talk about kinds of understanding and imaginative education -- the ideas make sense. I think Gardner does a good job of providing enough cushion for himself so that others don’t think he’s advocating THE Way to go about educating youngsters (I HATE when he uses this word), but one possible way. You don’t HAVE TO use multiple representations, but it seems like that’s worked so far so why not keep on going. (Here’s another bit of irony; he laments - lightly - the folk psychology of teaching... when I find his step-by-step process rather much in line with the folklore of teaching.) Sure his ideas aren’t as “tight” as I’d prefer and his rhetoric about the future of education and especially the influences of technology are... interesting, but when I clear away all of that nonsense I think the core of his ideas are workable, doable.


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