Gardner's 'Multiple Intelligences' seductive nonsense?

Donald Clark, Plan B, Nov 02, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

It almost seems to be a rite of passage in the discipline these days to announce to all and sundry that there's nothing to multiple intelligences, that Gardner (in his early writings at least) was mistaken, and that people who think there's something to it have been "seduced." Well - if it's "seductive" it may be because there is something to it, even if we don't exactly know what. It may not be that there's a nice neat four-item taxonomy in into which to classify individuals' special abilities - but it doesn't follow that no such abilities exist, and that there can't be different ways of being 'intelligent'. For my own part I certainly observe and experience preferences in learning style, which to me amounts to something. I'm quite sure they don't show up on standardized tests - but so much the worse for standardized tests. In the current discipline we call 'education' the argument that something is not 'proven by research' is to my mind almost redundant. People in this field do not even agree on what constitutes 'research' and 'evidence' (and there they do agree, in an Ungerleider sort of way, they get it wrong).
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