- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Printing edition (May 5, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684843242
- ISBN-13: 978-0684843247
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,468,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Disciplined Mind: What All Students Should Understand 1st Printing Edition
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Frustrated and disappointed by constraining lists of "core knowledge" and elitist notions of "cultural literacy," renowned Harvard educator and psychologist Howard Gardner demonstrates his own synthesis of what makes the best learning in The Disciplined Mind: What All Students Should Understand. Gardner's profound invention, the concept of multiple intelligences, has shown how each of us has his or her own pattern of intelligence, or modes of learning and talent (for example, one person may do best at logical and musical activities, while another is more socially and linguistically attuned). Armed with an understanding of these intelligences, teachers have been provided a marvelous tool to access and develop the minds of all students better. In this heartening book, Gardner both furthers his vision and reveals his formulation of the "ideal education."
"Deep understanding should be our central goal; we should strive to inculcate understanding of what, within a cultural context, is considered true or false, beautiful or unpalatable, good or evil," he writes. To illustrate learning opportunities in these three realms, Gardner selects some heavyweight topics: Darwin's theory of evolution, Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro, and the Holocaust. After a brief tour of the world's best schools (including Italy's remarkable student-driven Reggio Emilia), Gardner shows how these themes might be taught with a "multiple intelligences" approach to create as many ways as possible to begin study.
At times, Gardner's laments about education sound remarkably like those of fellow progressive Herbert Kohl (especially in 1998's Discipline of Hope: Learning from a Lifetime of Teaching). Each has a bitter pill for us to swallow about the status quo in education, but remains hopeful in his outlook for the future--if we can make some radical revisions to the methods and goals of our system, both men contend, all children can be graciously served by our teachers and schools. --Brian Williamson
Don't expect your favorite politicians to include Gardner's proposals for precollegiate education in their sound bites on education reform: Gardner's proposal is too complex (and too radical) to appeal to the quick-answer set. But readers genuinely interested in what (and how) our schools ought to be teaching will want to see what the co-director of Harvard's Project Zero, who also teaches education and psychology at Harvard, has to say. Drawing on recent studies of how students come to understand and on his own studies of multiple intelligences, Gardner proposes that the content of education should be truth (and falsity), beauty (and its absence), and morality (good and evil). Education, he suggests, should select a limited number of subjects that raise these issues--he uses evolution, Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, and the Holocaust--and approach these "icebergs" of information from entry points using techniques that will, over time, introduce children not simply to these subjects but also to the characteristic methods of such disciplines as science, musicology, and history. Challenging, provocative ideas. Mary Carroll
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Also, he has respect for the individual learner and individual differences, yet he is concerned about the "position" or "situation" or social class dynamics in which the learning takes place. Thus, he fails to do justice either to the individual or to class, race, or gender. The role of leadership in learning is wholly ignored; and responsibility is not explored. In short, it is extremely difficult to pin down Prof. Gardner. It would be kind to say he is eclectic. I hope it's just not fuzzy thinking.
However, we can discern that he has a romantic obsession with beauty, truth, and goodness. Imagine -- the Holocaust is reduced to being an illustration of what goodness is or is not! His treatment of these ideas is superficial and banal. I don't like to be so judgmental, but his writing about them does not deserve a detailed analysis.
When attacking E.D. Hirsch whom he calls the main speaker for "cultural literacy," he sets up a straw man. He says that Hirsch's school of thought has an underlying belief in the Lockeian "tabula rasa." Yet, I find nothing in Hirsch's writings to indicate that he believes in a tabula rasa.
Further, is Prof. Gardner really less elitist than Hirsch as some have claimed? I have found that the Harvard elite spend their entire lives trying to achieve and learn everything, and be on top. Their lives are marked by ambition to the Nth degree; yet, he debunks time-honored and experience-honored content areas that traditionally have defined literacy at its best. Thus, I find a certain inherent dishonesty in Gardner's presentation.
Believe me, friends, I have taught students who have many ideals, Greek ideals and other ideals, but know very little, nor do they aspire to learn. If they have those ideals, and if they are facile and glib, will they be the leaders of tomorrow who are embraced by Prof. Gardner?
I find a tendency on Prof. Gardner's part to oversimplify certain issues like the Holocaust, and to overcomplicate certain others like the nature of intelligence.
The world is not waiting for the concept of intelligence to be re-written. Am I oversimplifying when I think that there is something very awkward about saying that there is no fundamental difference in intelligence between Einstein and the custodian of my school? Is this awkwardness because I am an elitist putting down the custodian? Is it because of lack of intelligence that I am still in the grip of a univocal definition of intelligence? I don't think so. Rather, we all know we are dependent on each other, and that everybody has some unique aptitudes or gifts they can express and be respected for, but trying to elevate this understanding to a higher level of truth or intellectual significance seems to me to be illegitimate.
Lastly, his writing style is a bit too fond of adjectives, and the book reads as a whole like It Takes A Village by Mrs. Clinton. The Disciplined Mind has a mellifluous style that presents itself as being highly sophisticated and, at the same time, as down-to-earth, with balanced common sense. Yet, ultimately, the book is boring. As one Amazon reviewer states, Prof. Gardner is full of himself.
In this book, there is no straightforward discussion or emphasis placed on knowledge, justice, Judeo-Christian values, persistence, responsibility, or character development...words which I find essential for a true philosophy of education.