Dr Howard Gardner, Harvard professor has been one of my most inspiring long term virtual mentors. It was a little amusing when he came to India and so many teachers got annoyed because he didn’t just talk about Multiple Intelligences. The reality is that whilst that’s the work they tend to know him for, he moved on from it a long time ago. I have particularly followed all his work about ‘Good Work’.
If there’s a common theme that runs through all his work I believe it’s an interest in deep thought in critical areas that can lead to insights that can lead to a better world, a better future. To me, his work on multiple intelligences was about enabling teaching methods in schools to benefit more students, more of the time. The good work project was/ is about striving for a more ethical world, especially in the realm of people’s professions and work. Earlier, he and his wife did a lot of work on creativity, including how the West and the East can learn from each other in education to enable people to be their most creative and to grow up retaining more of the innate curiosity and creativity that is there in small children.
Now, it’s no surprise that he’s turned his attentions, in collaboration with others, to questions about how Apps and the ‘always on’ wired world may be impacting children. The growth in access to smart phones and tablets and the proliferation of Apps has happened so fast that few have really stopped to understand the implications. Instead, children, parents and educators have all been swept along by the tsunami. So, it’s good to see such eminent academics turning their attention to this area.
The article linked below left me with more questions than answers. At times I found myself feeling that whilst the research findings found certain connections they didn’t necessarily prove causation. I think the concerns about lack of time spent in quiet reflection may well prove justified (maybe this is where today’s interest in mindfulness comes from – as a replacement/ substitute). It is also plausible that creativity will be impaired.
It seems that before we can draw hard conclusions or know exactly how to minimise the risks there’s going to need to be considerably more research in this area.