A Synthesizing Mind book review

A Synthesizing Mind: A Memoir from the Creator of Multiple Intelligences TheoryA Synthesizing Mind: A Memoir from the Creator of Multiple Intelligences Theory by Howard Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Howard Gardner is a mentor of mine. So it was with personal interest that I picked up this memoir to learn a little bit about the scholar I worked for at Project Zero a decade ago. His voice really comes through in this book. I can hear his didactic tone but also the levity when he cracks a bit of a dad joke. I like the structure of the book around his intellectual development and the set of experiences that contribute to recognizing and using his “synthesizing mind.” I came away with a deeper appreciation for Howard and the opportunity to work alongside him and learn from him.

There are also some valuable insights in this book for scholars trying to make sense of their own work, especially ideas that take on a life of their own, such as his theory of multiple intelligences. Howard is rightfully proud of his work despite its misinterpretation and misuse. Fortunately, his curiosity is his guide and his deeply held principles delineate a path toward richer research and applications of his attention toward practical ends in education that have served many people well. I really loved how he acknowledged that projects can fail and some endeavors just simply end, but that there is value in the relationships developed and the people touched by even a short-term effort like the MI-based schools he writes about.

For me, the book was a quick read. And as I am also an academic, there was much wisdom in this meta-narrative from a leading light in the social sciences (or “social relations”). May I maintain his tenacity and curiosity in my own work and keep avoiding disciplinary silos.

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