A 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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To inform policy, curricula, and future research on cyberbullying through an exploration of the moral reasoning of digitally active 10–14-year olds (tweens) when witnesses to digital abuse.
Conducted interviews with 41 tweens, asking participants to react as witnesses to two hypothetical scenarios of digital abuse. Through thematic analysis of the interviews, I developed and applied a new typology for classifying “upstanders” and “bystanders” to cyberbullying.
Identified three types of upstander and five types of bystander, along with five thinking processes that led participants to react in those different ways. Upstanders were more likely than bystanders to think through a scenario using high-order moral reasoning processes like disinterested perspective-taking. Moral reasoning, emotions, and contextual factors, as well as participant gender and home school district, all appeared to play a role in determining how participants responded to cyberbullying scenarios.
Hypothetical scenarios posed in interviews cannot substitute for case studies of real events, but this qualitative analysis has produced a framework for classifying upstanding and bystanding behavior that can inform future studies and approaches to digital ethics education.
This study contributes to the literature on cyberbullying and moral reasoning through in-depth interviews with tweens that record the complexity and context-dependency of thinking processes like perspective-taking among an understudied but critical age group.
It Depends on Where You Look: Understanding the Role of Digital Media in Learning Civic Learning and Engagement
The emergence of new media ecologies associated with networked digital technology has created new contexts, tools and demands for civic learning. For example, technological changes have provided some youth with greater access to communities of practice where adults and peers work together towards a common goal (as described in Ito et al, 2008; and Jenkins et al, 2009), and in the process, may learn civic skills (Jenkins et al, 2009). Furthermore, scholars have called attention to the ways in which the increasing ubiquity of digital media as a conduit for public life might present new challenges and require new skills for civic and political participation (Jenkins et al, 2009; Rheingold, 2009). The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) is examining how the emergence of digital media may be changing the face of youth civic and political engagement, and in turn, the implications for supporting youth civic learning.
This session asks the question, “What is the role of digital media in civic learning?” We draw on three empirical studies of the YPP network, which examine this question in very different ways and provide different insights. The first study draws on case studies of exemplary youth organizations and networks where new media tools and practices are woven throughout the fabric of the community. This study illustrates, through examination of online and offline youth civic practices, the role that digital media can play in both supporting and transforming the learning of civic skills in a highly digitally networked context. The second study draws on interviews with civically and politically engaged youth about their civic identities. This study explores the role of digital media in civic learning when youth are involved in more “traditional” civic or political contexts. The final study draws on a national survey of youth and examines their values and behaviors related to civic skills that are increasingly important as civic and political life is digitally mediated. This study draws attention to the ways in which youth are adapting to, and may need additional support for, engagement in civic and political life where the norms of information production and consumption and communication may be changing.
This interactive workshop focuses on digital citizenship by focusing on the ethical dimensions of young people’s participation in new media environments, such as blogs, multiplayer games, and social networks like Facebook. Katie Davis and Erhardt Graeff, both researchers on the GoodPlay Project at Harvard’s Project Zero, will share relevant research findings; provide an overview of a digital ethics casebook developed for use in schools and other learning environments; and engage participants in a curricular activity aimed at cultivating ethical thinking among youth.