SEMANA: Since you came with the theory of multiple intelligence, which of this instances -schools, companies, people- have adopted more your ideas?
Howard Gardner: Multiple intelligence ideas were first adopted in schools for young children both in the United States and abroad. By now there are hundreds of schools all over the world that are using "MI" ideas. MI has also been adapted in other educational institutions, like museums, television, etc. Many companies have expressed an interest in these ideas, as have government and non profit organizations, but I have not kept up with actual adoption of MI practices. There are also books on MI in the Workplace.
SEMANA: What can a father or a teacher do in order to see the intelligence in a young person, let us say when he is 4 or 6 years old, and cultivate it?
H.G.: An especially good practice is to take a young child to a children's museum, or some other rich environment, where it is possible to explore lots of materials at your own pace. If you watch the child carefully, you can see what he or she is interested in and especially what he or she gets better in. That will tell you about the child's profile of intelligences.Of course, it is then up to the parent or teacher to encourage activities that cultivate the intelligence-- could be mathematical activities, musical activities, athletics, the arts etc.
SEMANA: In our country, there isn't still much emphasis on intra and inter personal intelligence in school or work. ¿How can society work towards the improvement of this skill and value it?
H.G.: I can't judge comparative emphases on the personal intelligences. In some countries, the personal intelligences would be emphasized more at home and the church; in other countries, at school or in the workplace. The important point is that individuals should come to understand one another better and understand themselves better. Such understanding comes about from working with and watching individuals who have lots of accurate knowledge about the human condition. We hope that such understanding will be used in a positive way. But intelligences can be used constructively and destructively. Both Nelson Mandela and Slobodan Milosevic have lots of interpersonal intelligence, but Mandela uses it in a positive way.
SEMANA: In the theory of MI is there any space for genius? ¿Why sometimes we say of somebody that he or she has an exceptional intelligence? ¿What has happened on that particular brain? Which factors can enhance our capacities?
H.G.: A genius is a person who is outstanding in one or more intelligences and uses that capacity to reach a new level in a domain-like science, art, politics, business, or scholarship. Having the intelligence is necessary but not sufficient. The genius is the person who works tirelessly in an area, wants to discover or make something new, and is not deterred by failure or criticism. I don't think that the brain of a genius is that different-but what the genius DOES with the brain is different.
SEMANA: Which type of intelligence is most needed today? Will the impact of computers, technology and the Internet interfere with our inter and intrapersonal intelligence? ¿Will it increase our potential in scientific intelligence?
H.G.: Technology can cut both ways. On the one hand, you need to have a certain amount of logical /scientific intelligence to work with a computer. Yet, what computers are good at are logical tasks. So it may be advisable to develop intelligences where computers are less competent-like artistic or personal intelligences. I think that the intrapersonal intelligence is more important than ever in the 21st century, because we need to be able to make wise decisions about where to live, whom to live with, where to to work etc.
SEMANA: Can leadership be counted as an intelligence? How can that skill be taught but for the benefit of the whole community and not only for egotistic reasons?
H.G.: Leadership draws primarily on three intelligences: linguistic (because leaders must be able to express themselves well); interpersonal (because leaders need to understand other people) and existential (because leaders help us to think about and to address big questions, about the meaning of life).
Our GoodWork project is an effort to study people and institutions who use their talents for the broader good, who are not just egotistic. You need to have strong and positive values, and to work in institutions that share these values, in order to overcome the temptation to be selfish. To learn more about the goodwork project, visit goodworkproject.org or my two books about Good Work, both published in Spanish by Paidós.
SEMANA: Changing minds is about trying to convince others of your ideas. How can we do that and without being disrespectful of their opinion or the way to go about in life?
H.G.: A first point about changing minds is listening carefully to others-understanding what they are saying explicitly and what they are trying to say, but may not be able to put into words. A second point is to understand why the person would resist change, and not to attack those resistances directly. I believe that one should not hide the mind change that one is trying to bring about but there is no point in hitting people over the head with a mind change that they might find repugnant. Ultimately, people won't change their minds unless they want to. In my book 'Changing minds', I describe the seven levers that are most likely to yield a desired mind change.
SEMANA: Sometimes changing minds can be easier than try to change behavior. Why it is so and how we can really change not only in our thinking but in our practice?
H.G.: I disagree. I think it is actually easier to change practices, because rewards and punishment will get people to behave differently in the short run. The challenge is : what happens when the rewards or punishments stop? That is where mind changing becomes the challenge. If you are successful in changing minds, then the person will continue to behave differently, even if the rewards or punishments cease.
SEMANA: We, as a country, are trying now to seal a treaty with an armed group. Do you think we can apply the theory of changing minds to obtain peace?
H.G.: I think that the principles of mind changing would be very important in trying to change the minds of the people who are part of the armed group. I doubt that the technique would work with the leaders, because those people often have made a commitment not to change their minds. But of course, sometimes leaders to change their minds, as happened in Northern Ireland over the past 25 years or in Japan after World War II.
SEMANA: Why do men need education?
H.G.: Men and women both need education. As the writer H G Wells said, there is always a race between education and catastrophe. If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Also, our minds allow us to understand the world better but that understanding can only come about through education. Do you want to go through life without understanding the world?
SEMANA: ¿why so many people with intellectual limitations exhibit talents in diverse fields?
H.G.: If I understand this questions correctly: our intelligences are diverse. And so a person might be strong in one area, and not in others; or vice versa. No one can be strong in every area, because life is short, and the time spent excelling in one domain cannot be spent excelling in every other domain.
SEMANA: If there is no such a general intelligence (measurable by a single test) ¿how one can explain so much interest in determine scientifically the difference between mass and volume of brains in men and women, something that can lead to the idea of different intelligences between sexes?
H.G.: While the male brain is, on the average, bigger than the female brain, there is no convincing evidence that either sex is 'smarter' than the other, on the average. We do know that men tend to be better on logical and spatial tasks, and women tend to excel on linguistic and interpersonal tasks. But no one knows the reason for these differences-they appear to be changeable.
SEMANA: ¿And what type of intelligence one needs to have a good couple relationship?
H.G.: You need to have a lot of interpersonal intelligence, a lot of intrapersonal intelligence, a lot of patience, and a lot of willingness to admit that you are wrong when you are.
SEMANA: ¿Is interpersonal intelligence the one most needed to establish a romantic relationship? ¿What can you tell us about love in intelligence
H.G.: Falling in love is not a matter of intelligence, but keeping the flame going after the passion has been spent must be a strong goal if the relationship is to last. Achieving goals does require intelligence.
SEMANA: ¿Your studies and investigations have something to do with the web known ideas of emotional intelligence developed by Daniel Goleman?
H.G.: Yes,. What Goleman calls emotional intelligence, is what I call interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. The major difference is that Goleman indicates the kind of person that he wants us to become, and I don't consider that part of the intelligence, but rather the use to which the intelligence is put. See my comparison of Mandela and Milosevic, as above.
SEMANA: ¿What is the difference between interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence?
H.G.: Inter refers to understanding of others, intra refers to understanding o self.
SEMANA: ¿How do you evaluate this various types of intelligence?
H.G.: There are formal tests, but I don't think that they are necessary. A good observer helps. If you describe yourself, and your description agrees with that of a friend and a relative, that probably is sufficient for most purposes. Note also that intelligences can change, as a result of practice or lack of practice.
SEMANA: You are in favor of individual configured education, but still you maintain some kind of a universal perspective. ¿is there a contradiction there that you are actually very critical of a kind of uniform schooling, but you are having highly universalized attitudes towards life?
H.G.: Good question. We might agree totally on our educational goals, or our goals about life, but still feel that there are many ways to achieve those goals. Individual centered education addresses flexibility about means, not necessarily about goals.
SEMANA: Which are the 10 most intelligent people you have met or have reference of (it can be a historical figure)
H.G.: Well, I don't believe in general intelligence. So I would have to mention people who are outstanding in different intelligences. Shakespeare would be outstanding in linguistic and interpersonal intelligence, Picasso in Spatial intelligence, Mozart in musical intelligence, Darwin in naturalist intelligence, etc.
SEMANA: Three advices for the educational system?
H.G.: l. Decide on what is really important-don't try to do everything.
2. Have a measure of what you are trying to achieve-if you are succeeding, say a prayer of thanks. If not, figure out what you should do differently and try it. Make NEW mistakes.
3. Involve parents, media, older persons, other teachers-no teacher and child can do it alone.
SEMANA: ¿What is your definition of culture and how much weight has culture in your theories?
H.G.: We need to understand the practices and assumptions of different cultures when we are thinking about knowledge and education. What works in Japan might not work in Bogota or vice versa. But much of human nature is the same across cultures and that is a good thing. Humans would never learn to speak if we had to teach speaking-fortunately our brains are so devised that we pick up language readily, so long as we are placed in a language-rich environment. Whether we speak Japanese or Spanish, however, and whether we speak one or five languages, is a product of the culture in which we live.
SEMANA: ¿What in your opinion is better to teach first to kid ?
H.G.: The first thing to do is to love the child. That is the greatest gift and it lasts the longest.
SEMANA: ¿Applying your theories to the new learning system can lead to a (R)evolution of knowledge?
H.G.: I would like to think that my ideas about intelligence, my ideas about good work and my ideas about disciplinary understanding, can lead to a better educational system. But no theorist has all the answers. And in the end what is achieved is due less to theorists and more to the goals and methods of the practitioners 'on the ground.'