03 November 2013

Howard Gardner on Learning Styles vs Intelligences

I'm pasting the text here so it does not get lost in the sands of time, but here's the link to the original.

By Howard Gardner

It’s been 30 years since I developed the notion of “multiple intelligences.” I have been gratified by the interest shown in this idea and the ways it’s been used in schools, museums, and businesses around the world. But one unanticipated consequence has driven me to distraction—and that’s the tendency of many people, including persons whom I cherish, to credit me with the notion of ‘learning styles’ or to collapse ‘multiple intelligences’ with ‘learning styles.’ It’s high time to relieve my pain and to set the record straight.
First a word about “MI theory.” On the basis of research in several disciplines, including the study of how human capacities are represented in the brain, I developed the idea that each of us has a number of relatively independent mental faculties, which can be termed our “multiple intelligences.” The basic idea is simplicity itself. A belief in a single intelligence assumes that we have one central, all-purpose computer—and it determines how well we perform in every sector of life. In contrast, a belief in multiple intelligences assumes that we have a number of relatively autonomous computers—one that computes linguistic information, another spatial information, another musical information, another information about other people, and so on. I estimate that human beings have 7 to 10 distinct intelligences (see www.multipleintelligencesoasis.org).

Even before I spoke and wrote about “MI,” the term “learning styles” was being bandied about in educational circles. The idea, reasonable enough on the surface, is that all children (indeed, all of us) have distinctive minds and personalities. Accordingly, it makes sense to find out about learners and to teach and nurture them in ways that are appropriate, that they value, and—above all—that are effective.

Two problems. First, the notion of  ”learning styles”’ is itself not coherent. Those who use this term do not define the criteria for a style, nor where styles come from, how they are recognized/assessed/exploited. Say that Johnny is said to have a learning style that is ‘impulsive.” Does that mean that Johnny is “‘impulsive” about everything? How do we know this?  What does this imply about teaching—should we teach “impulsively,” or should we compensate by “teaching reflectively?” What of a learning style that is “right-brained” or visual or tactile? Same issues apply.

Problem #2. When researchers have tried to identify learning styles, teach consistently with those styles, and examine outcomes, there is not persuasive evidence that the learning style analysis produces more effective outcomes than a “one size fits all approach.” Of course, the learning style analysis might have been inadequate. Or even if it is on the mark, the fact that one intervention did not work does not mean that the concept of learning styles is fatally flawed; another intervention might have proved effective. Absence of evidence does not prove non-existence of a phenomenon; it signals to educational researchers: ‘back to the drawing boards.’

Here’s my considered judgment about the best way to parse this lexical terrain:

Intelligence: We all have the multiple intelligences. But we single out, as a strong intelligence, an area where the person has considerable computational power. Your ability to win regularly at a game involving spatial thinking signals strong spatial intelligence. Your ability to speak a foreign language well after just a few months of ‘going native’ signals strong linguistic intelligence.

Style or Learning Style: A style is a hypothesis of how an individual approaches the range of materials. If an individual has a “reflective style,” he is hypothesized to be reflective about the full range of materials. We cannot assume that reflectiveness in writing necessarily signals reflectiveness in one’s interaction with others. But if reflectiveness truly obtains across the board, educators should take that style seriously.

Senses: Sometimes people speak about a “visual” learner or an “auditory” learner. The implication is that some people learn through their eyes, others through their ears. This notion is incoherent. Both spatial information and reading occur with the eyes, but they make use of entirely different cognitive faculties. Similarly, both music and speaking activate the ears, but again these are entirely different cognitive faculties. Recognizing this fact, the concept of intelligences does not focus on how linguistic or spatial information reaches the brain—via eyes, ears, hands, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the power of the mental computer, the intelligence, that acts upon that sensory information, once picked up.

These distinctions are consequential. My goal here is not to give a psychology or a physiology or a physics lesson but rather to make sure that we do not fool ourselves and, as important, that we do not short change our children. If people want to talk about ‘an impulsive style’ or ‘a visual learner,’ that’s their prerogative. But they should recognize that these labels may be unhelpful, at best, and ill-conceived at worst.

In contrast, there is strong evidence that human beings have a range of intelligences and that strength (or weakness) in one intelligence does not predict strength (or weakness) in any other intelligences. All of us exhibit jagged profiles of intelligences. There are common sense ways of assessing our own intelligences, and if it seems appropriate, we can take a more formal test battery. And then, as teachers, parents, or self- assessors, we can decide how best to make use of this information.

As an educator, I draw three primary lessons for educators:
1.       Individualize your teaching as much as possible. Instead of “one size fits all,” learn as much as you can about each student, and teach each person in ways that they find comfortable and learn effectively. Of course this is easier to accomplish with smaller classes. But ‘apps’ make it possible to individualize for everyone.
2.        Pluralize your teaching. Teach important materials in several ways, not just one (e.g. through stories, works of art, diagrams, role play). In this way you can reach students who learn in different ways. Also, by presenting materials in various ways, you convey what it means to understand something well. If you can only teach in one way, your own understanding is likely to be thin.
3.       Drop the term “styles.” It will confuse others and it won’t help either you or your students.

20 September 2013

Rebutting Direct Instruction Claims

Here's a good thoughtfu rebuttal to claims about the efficacy of direct instruction:

"Door #1: If our goal is to accelerate short-term learning of predetermined and easily tested academic knowledge and skills (regardless of broad and long-term effects), then direct instruction would be judged to be clearly more effective.

Door #2: However, what if we want what works best in the long run for the range of goals we value most for children, including real-world competence in subject matter plus creativity, love of learning, initiative, problem-solving, independence, critical thinking, citizenship, good decision-making, communication skills, leadership, and to be caring, happy, and healthy? If we really want this, then education with substantial child-initiated and jointly-planned learning is clearly superior.
After decades of researching people's top goals for children, I know that parents and employers consistently pick Door #2 (see Wagner, 2008)."

23 February 2013

Education in the Movies Titles List

290 titles as of 1 September 2013

The following list of movie titles covers movies that feature children and/or schools which meet my personal minimum standard of cinematic competence or cultural significance. Most are feature length. They are organized into two broad categories, school vs non-school and nine sub-categories according to the level of reality that is presumed to be presented. From most to least real (with the understanding that film is inherently unrealistic): Documentaries, Based on a True Story, Fiction, Fantasies. Between Fiction and Fantasies I also have a category for topics of violence, war, and crime. Since I tend to avoid horror and High School and College age those may be underrepresented. I started this list several years ago with the thought of analyzing how education and schools are portrayed as part of my personal work on understanding why our school system is the way it is and communicating how it could be changed for the better. Also, I've seen all but a few and almost all of them are available via Netflix. The hardest films to see have been Conrack and Ponette.

I welcome your help to fill in the gaps if I've missed some truly great movie(s). If you believe I should add something I would appreciate your input as long as you make a case for the film(s) you think I have neglected.

(I reorganized the categories to simplify the list in summer 2013.)

The Categories:

A1- School Documentary (28 titles)
A2- School True (23 titles)
A3- School Fiction (59 titles)
A4- School Fantasies- SciFi Horror Comedy Musical Animation (25 titles)

B1- Non-School Kids Documentaries (5 titles)
B2- Non-School Kids True (7 titles)
B3- Non-School Kids Fiction (45 titles)
B4- Non-School Kids Violence War Crime (22 titles)
B5- Non-School Kids Fantasies- SciFi Horror Comedy Musical Animation (76 titles)

You might wonder, What counts as school?
School is a conspiracy to educate a group of non-sibling children. Finding Neverland and Karate Kid do not constitute school movies but Born Into Brothels, White Squall, Whale Rider, and Blindsight do.

A1- School Documentary
  1. 1968 High School
  2. 1993 I Am A Promise
  3. 1994 High School II
  4. 1994 Hoop Dreams
  5. 1995 Small Wonders
  6. 2001 Chain Camera
  7. 2001 First Year & Teach
  8. 2002 Etre et avior (To Be And To Have)
  9. 2002 OT- Our Town
  10. 2003 Children Full Of Life
  11. 2004 Born Into Brothels
  12. 2004 Free To Learn
  13. 2004 Paper Clips
  14. 2004 Touch of Greatness
  15. 2005 Class Act
  16. 2005 Heart of the Game
  17. 2005 Mad Hot Ballroom
  18. 2006 Blindsight
  19. 2007 Please Vote For Me
  20. 2007 War Dance
  21. 2008 Nursery University
  22. 2009 War On Kids
  23. 2010 Schooling The World
  24. 2010 The Lottery
  25. 2010 Waiting For Superman
  26. 2010 We Are The People We Have Been Waiting For
  27. 2011 August to June
  28. 2011 The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting For Superman
A2- School True
  1. 1969 L'enfant Sauvage (Wild Child)
  2. 1974 Conrack
  3. 1988 Stand And Deliver
  4. 1989 Lean On Me
  5. 1992 The Lover
  6. 1993 Searching for Bobby Fischer
  7. 1995 Dangerous Minds
  8. 1996 White Squall
  9. 1998 Ruby Bridges
  10. 1999 Music of the Heart
  11. 1999 October Sky
  12. 2000 Remember The Titans
  13. 2002 Rabbit-Proof Fence
  14. 2003 Radio
  15. 2005 Coach Carter
  16. 2006 Ron Clark Story
  17. 2006 Take The Lead
  18. 2007 Freedom Writers
  19. 2007 Great Debaters
  20. 2008 Summerhill
  21. 2009 An Education
  22. 2010 Temple Grandin
  23. 2010 The First Grader
A3- School Fiction
  1. 1939, 2003 Goodbye Mr Chips
  2. 1945 Bells of St Mary's
  3. 1954 Ninjushi no hitomi (24 Eyes)
  4. 1955 Blackboard Jungle
  5. 1956 La Ballon Rouge (The Red Ballon)
  6. 1961 Children's Hour
  7. 1966 To Sir, With Love
  8. 1967 Up The Down Staircase
  9. 1969 Kes
  10. 1969 Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  11. 1973 Paper Chase
  12. 1975 Picnic at Hanging Rock
  13. 1976 Argent De Poche (Small Change)
  14. 1978 Du Er Ikke Alene (You Are Not Alone)
  15. 1980 My Bodyguard
  16. 1981 Taps
  17. 1983 Educating Rita
  18. 1986 Children of a Lesser God
  19. 1987 Au Revior Les Enfants
  20. 1989 Dead Poet's Society
  21. 1990 Pump Up The Volume
  22. 1991 Little Man Tate
  23. 1992 School Ties
  24. 1995 Lust Och Fagring Stor (All Things Fair)
  25. 1995 Mr. Holland's Opus
  26. 1996 Ponette
  27. 1997 Good Will Hunting
  28. 1998 Madeline
  29. 1998 Simon Birch
  30. 1999 Cider House Rules
  31. 1999 Lengua De Las Mariposas (Butterfly's Tongue)
  32. 2000 Billy Elliot
  33. 2000 Finding Forrester
  34. 2000 Pay It Forward
  35. 2000 Wonder Boys
  36. 2000 Yi ge dou bu neng shao (Not One Less)
  37. 2000 Yi Yi
  38. 2001 Lost and Delerious
  39. 2002 Emperors Club
  40. 2002 Whale Rider
  41. 2003 Caterina va in Citta (Caterina In The Big City)
  42. 2003 Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring
  43. 2004 Les Choristes (The Chorus)
  44. 2004 Saint Ralph
  45. 2005 Machuca
  46. 2005 Tom Browns Schooldays
  47. 2006 Akeelah And The Bee
  48. 2006 Half Nelson
  49. 2006 History Boys
  50. 2006 Notes on a Scandal
  51. 2007 Son of Rambow
  52. 2007 Taare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth)
  53. 2007 Vitus
  54. 2008 Doubt
  55. 2008 Entre Les Murs (The Class)
  56. 2008 Phoebe in Wonderland
  57. 2010 Easy A
  58. 2010 Master Harold... And The Boys
  59. 2011 Monsieur Lazhar
A4- School Fantasy- SciFi Horror Comedy Musical Animation-
  1. 1982 Fast Times At Ridgemont High
  2. 1982 Pink Floyd's The Wall
  3. 1983 Christmas Story
  4. 1984 Sixteen Candles
  5. 1984 Teachers
  6. 1985 Breakfast Club
  7. 1986 Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  8. 1986 Pretty in Pink
  9. 1995 Major Payne
  10. 1996 Matilda
  11. 1996 Scream
  12. 1998 Rushmore
  13. 1999 Election
  14. 2001 Donnie Darko
  15. 2001-11 Harry Potter Series
  16. 2003 School of Rock
  17. 2005 Chicken Little
  18. 2006 Accepted
  19. 2006 Chalk
  20. 2007 Juno
  21. 2008 Lat Den Ratte Komma In (Let The Right One In)
  22. 2009 A Serious Man
  23. 2009 Three Idiots
  24. 2011 Bad Teacher
  25. 2013 Up On Poppy Hill
B1- Non-School Kids Documentary
  1. 2000 Sound and Fury
  2. 2001 Children Underground
  3. 2001 Merchants of Cool
  4. 2002 Spellbound
  5. 2003 Girlhood
B2- Non-School Kids True
  1. 1947 Life with Father
  2. 1962, 2000 Miracle Worker
  3. 1985 Mitt Liv Som Hund (My Life As A Dog)
  4. 2000 My Dog Skip
  5. 2001, 2009 Anne Frank
  6. 2004 Finding Neverland
  7. 2005 Dreamer
B3- Non-School Kids Fiction
  1. 1941 How Green Was My Valley
  2. 1944 National Velvet
  3. 1953 Crin Blanche- Le Cheval Sauvage (White Mane)
  4. 1979 Black Stallion
  5. 1980 Tendres Cousines
  6. 1985 Journey of Natty Gann
  7. 1986 Stand By Me
  8. 1987 Pelle Erobreren (Pelle, the Conqueror)
  9. 1988 Cinema Paradiso
  10. 1991 My Girl
  11. 1991 Wild Hearts Cant Be Broken
  12. 1992 Into The West
  13. 1995 Kids
  14. 1995 Now And Then
  15. 1996 Kolya
  16. 1997 Bacheha-Ye aseman (Children of Heaven)
  17. 1997 Bian Lian (King of Masks)
  18. 1997 Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink)
  19. 1997 Rang-e Khoda (Color of Paradise)
  20. 1999 Phorpe (The Cup)
  21. 2001 Her Majesty
  22. 2001 Malunde
  23. 2002 Anita and Me
  24. 2002 Jibeuro (Way Home)
  25. 2003 I Am David
  26. 2003 Papillon (Butterfly)
  27. 2003 Story of the Weeping Camel
  28. 2004 Dear Frankie
  29. 2004 Ikke Naken (Not Naked, The Color of Milk)
  30. 2005 Because of Winn Dixie
  31. 2005 Bee Season
  32. 2005 Cave of the Yellow Dog
  33. 2005 Duma
  34. 2005 Live & Become
  35. 2005 Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
  36. 2005 Water
  37. 2006 Fall
  38. 2006 Little Miss Sunshine
  39. 2007 Martian Child
  40. 2007 Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon)
  41. 2007 Renard et L'enfant (Fox and the Child)
  42. 2008 Secret Life Of Bees
  43. 2008 Treeless Mountain
  44. 2009 Amreeka
  45. 2009 Children of Invention
B4- Non-School Kids- Violence War Crime
  1. 1954 Jeux Interdits (Forbidden Games)
  2. 1962, 1997 Lolita
  3. 1962 To Kill A Mockingbird
  4. 1963,1990 Lord of the Flies
  5. 1963 Sammy Going South
  6. 1971 Walkabout
  7. 1984, 1986, 2010 Karate Kid
  8. 1985 Color Purple
  9. 1987 Empire Of The Sun
  10. 1987 Hope And Glory
  11. 1993 Man Without A Face
  12. 1994 Leon The Professional
  13. 1997 Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful)
  14. 2000 El Bola (Pellet)
  15. 2000 Malena
  16. 2004 Mala Educacion (Bad Education)
  17. 2004 Millions
  18. 2005 Tsotsi
  19. 2007 Atonement
  20. 2008 Slumdog Millionaire
  21. 2008 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  22. 2008 Turtles Can Fly
B5- Non-School Kids Fantasy- SciFi Horror Comedy Musical Animation
  1. 1940 Pinocchio
  2. 1942 Bambi
  3. 1951 Alice in Wonderland
  4. 1953 Peter Pan
  5. 1962 The Music Man
  6. 1963 The Sword in the Stone
  7. 1964 Mary Poppins
  8. 1964 My Fair Lady
  9. 1967 The Jungle Book
  10. 1977 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  11. 1979 Castle of Cagliostro
  12. 1982 Annie
  13. 1982 E.T.
  14. 1983 Risky Business
  15. 1984 Die Unendliche Gesichte (The Neverending Story)
  16. 1984 Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  17. 1985 Explorers
  18. 1986 Castle in the Sky
  19. 1988 Big
  20. 1988 Hotaru No Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
  21. 1988 My Neighbor Totoro
  22. 1989 Kiki's Delivery Service
  23. 1993 Mrs. Doubtfire
  24. 1994 Lion King
  25. 1994 Pom Poko
  26. 1994 The Secret of Roan Inish
  27. 1995 Indian in the Cupboard
  28. 1995 Jumanji
  29. 1995 Pocahontas
  30. 1996 James and the Giant Peach
  31. 1998 Mulan
  32. 1999 Iron Giant
  33. 1999 Sixth Sense
  34. 2001 Artificial Intelligence - A.I.
  35. 2001 Spirited Away
  36. 2002 Cat Returns
  37. 2002 Monsters Inc
  38. 2002 Return to Never Land
  39. 2002 Signs
  40. 2002 The Cat Returns
  41. 2003 Finding Nemo
  42. 2003 Holes
  43. 2004 Howl's Moving Castle
  44. 2004 Incredibles
  45. 2005 Little Manhattan
  46. 2005 Nanny McPhee
  47. 2005 Zathura - A Space Adventure
  48. 2006 Monster House
  49. 2006 Pan's Labyrinth
  50. 2007 August Rush
  51. 2007 Battle For Terra
  52. 2007 Bridge to Terabithia
  53. 2007 Last Mimzy
  54. 2007 Meet the Robinsons
  55. 2007 Ping Pong Playa
  56. 2007 Surf's Up
  57. 2008 Chasseurs de dragons (Dragon Hunters)
  58. 2008 Chonicles of Narnia- Prince Caspian
  59. 2008 City of Ember
  60. 2008 Gake no Ue No Ponyo (Ponyo On the Cliff)
  61. 2008 Kung Fu Panda
  62. 2008 Rolemodels
  63. 2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  64. 2009 Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  65. 2009 Coraline
  66. 2009 Secret of Kells
  67. 2009 Up
  68. 2010 Despicable Me
  69. 2010 How to Train Your Dragon
  70. 2010 It's Kind Of A Funny Story
  71. 2010 Kick Ass
  72. 2010 Nanny McPhee Returns
  73. 2010 Tangled
  74. 2010 Toy Story 3
  75. 2012 Beasts of the Southern Wild
  76. 2012 Moonrise Kingdom

11 January 2013

Addressing Gun Violence

I was sent a survey about gun violence today and wanted to share my responses. This is a variation on the theme I developed in a previous post called "Guns are dangerous fun, so are cars and drugs."

Tell us a bit about yourself:
Other: I'm a citizen who is concerned about violence.

Please tell us more about why you are concerned about gun violence:
Guns are one of the tools of violence, so how we treat them may be indicative of our understanding of the ultimate problem. If guns are the problem, then controlling them is vitally important. But if guns are only a symptom of a larger problem then we need to ensure that controlling guns does not waste energy and resources that would be better spent on addressing the real problem.

Have you or anyone in your immediately family been affected by gun violence?
No.

Please tell us more about your story:
My dad accidentally shot himself in the leg when he was a kid. I don't count that as gun violence, but as a gun accident. Violence requires either intention to harm or intentional neglect of the power to prevent harm.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Gun violence is just one manifestation of the deeper problem of violence in our society. Children die in motor vehicles on a far larger scale than by fire arms. Our society has intentionally neglected to use the power of regulation to prevent children form dying in motor vehicles. That's violence by my definition and we are not banning any motor vehicles.

We register all motor vehicles and also license drivers for different kinds of vehicles to ensure they can demonstrate safe and law abiding use. That should be the case with fire arms. I am reluctant to support bans on particular classes of firearms in the same way that I would be reluctant to ban whole classes of motorcycles, cars, or trucks. We have a functional set of rules about what counts as street legal and that still allows lots of people to own and operate vehicles that deviate from those norms. So, in my view the regulation of guns should be brought into closer alignment with the regulation of the other major weapon of violence that kills children on a massive scale in our society, motor vehicles. And the regulations should focus on classifying firearms according to various uses and ensuring that owners can demonstrate safe and law-abiding use for whichever classes of firearms they choose to own.

The following occurred to me after I submitted the survey:

And in anticipation of those who think that firearms are critical to citizens being empowered to maintain a check on the power of the government: consider the strategic value of your means of transportation as compared to the strategic value of your firearms. As far as I can tell they will both be critical to any chance of success in the event armed insurrection is necessary. And the most devastating attack on our government by a citizen in recent times was via motor vehicle not firearms (Murrah Federal Building bombing).

08 January 2013

Childrearing Lessons from the Deep Past

First a link to a piece on parenting by Jared Diamond who has intimate knowledge of hunter gatherer societies in New Guinea.

The subtitle summary: "Hold them, share them, let them run free."

Second a link to Peter Gray's series on lessons for education from hunter gatherer societies.
The subtitle summary: "Children are designed by nature to educate themselves."

02 January 2013

Here is a TEDx talk by Ed Deci one of the creators of Self-Dermination Theory (SDT) explaining the basics of motivation:


SDT was the theoretical framework for my thesis, so it was interesting to hear it straight from Deci.