BOOKNEWS AND REVIEWS
"Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn't ask ourselves what it says but what it means." From The Name of the Rose (1983) by Umberto Eco.
Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice by Howard Gardner. Basic Books, 1993.
This is a comprehensive summary of the applications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner's original work on this topic, Frames of Mind, was published in 1983. We have always been impressed with his engaging style of writing about multiple intelligences because he writes from the perspective of a humanist psychologist and scholar of the arts and humanities than as a narrowly focused psychometric theorist. The current volume maintains a high level of stimulating and informative discourse concerning the concepts originally introduced in Frames of Mind. In his 1983 book, Gardner proposed seven different types of intelligence in comparison to the predominant theory of there being one major type (general intelligence or g) which cuts across different skills and vocational aptitudes. Gardner's 1993 work presents excellent summaries of his theory and describes how it has been applied during the last ten years to elementary and secondary education.
He views intelligence as the potential for developing certain abilities, and it is expressed in the social context where a child, adolescent or adult lives and develops. His emphasis upon studying intelligence through observing children's behavior in particular types of learning environments as compared to using paper & pencil tests is a refreshing antidote to the "test, test, test" mentality currently advocated by the leaders of education reform. In contrast to reformists who espouse uniform learning in the inclusive/heterogeneous classroom, Gardner has emphasized that classroom learning should be keyed to each child's unique abilities in an individualized learning environment. This environment uses a domain-specific and project-based learning model with assessment based upon portfolios and "processfolios." The gifted child will benefit more from Gardner's model of classroom learning than from the reformists' emphasis on so-called "world-class education" and outcome-based education.
An example of the engaging quality of Gardner's writing is shown in the following example from his Chapter on, "The Relation of Intelligence to Other Valued Human Capacities" (p. 59):
Understanding creativity is difficult enough; to shed light on genius borders on the impossible. Let me simply propose that the genius is a creative individual who is able to arrive at insights that are novel and yet strike a deeply responsive chord across the world's diverse cultures. It is difficult enough to make an advance within one's domain; but to make an advance that can reverberate loudly within human society borders on the miraculous. Perhaps it is not fanciful to consider Mozart or Confucius or Shakespeare as miraculous -- the incredible coinciding of a human being with the secrets of the universe.
This paragraph shows why educators and parents of the gifted should read Gardner's 1993 and 1983 books. His insights into human abilities, giftedness, genius, and creativity go far beyond current writings of "world-class" educationists who emphasize using unimaginative ideas (such as objectives-based testing) to solve the difficult problems of American education. He is a brilliant conceptualizer of human intelligence and the "American Piaget" of public education who offers humane solutions to these problems.
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael H. Hart. Citadel Press, 1992.
The original version of this book was published in 1978. Since then, the author has revised his list by eliminating some individuals (Niels Bohr, Pablo Picasso and Antione Henri Becquerel), added others (Mikhail Gorbachev, Ernest Rutherford and Henry Ford), and changed the ranking of many such as Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx and Mao Zedong. Hart stresses that his selections and rankings are based on their influence, not their "fame, prestige, talent, versatility, and nobility of character." Although his choices are derived from historical, political, scientific, social and religious considerations, it would be interesting to conduct a psychological analysis of their cognitive dispositions and abilities by using a scheme such as Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. A cursory review indicates that most of the 100 had advanced linguistic and/or logical-mathematical abilities. However, a few such as Beethoven, Bach and Michelangelo were clearly advanced in the musical and spatial areas of intelligence. The top 10 rankings are: Muhammad, Isaac Newton, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Confucius, St. Paul, Ts'ai Lun, Johann Gutenberg, Christopher Columbus, and Albert Einstein. Some "bad-evil people" are among the 100 (e.g., Hitler and Stalin) but most are listed for their enormous positive contributions to different fields of endeavor. In the Appendix, Hart shows that most of them were either scientists & inventors (36) or political & military leaders (31). The author has written interesting and concise biographies of each individual discussed in his book that clearly describe the reasons for including them. The book also has fascinating pictures and illustrations showing the persons being discussed and, in many cases, examples of their accomplishments. Gifted students, their parents and teachers will find it to be useful no matter whether they agree with Hart's rankings.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
ATTENTION PARENTS AND TEACHERS! The Summer 1993 GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY contains two important articles on the future of gifted education as related to education reform. Dr. Joseph Renzulli, Director of The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, describes changes in his Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM), and Dr. Karen Rogers of St. Thomas University discusses the future of gifted education in our public schools. DON'T MISS THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE OF GEPQ. Order a subscription at the special rate of $8.00 for ONE or $15.00 for TWO YEARS.
ABC TELEVISION NETWORK is offereing educators a free subscription to their quarterly TV planner which includes such information as ABC programming schedules, suggested follow-up reading, maps and posters, and resource listings. Order from ABC Television Network; 10 North Main Street; Yardley, PA 19067-9956. Call 1-800-647-4ABC.
AT&T LEARNING NETWORK provides students with world-wide computer communication opportunities through Learning Circles. Students of diverse cultures and nationalities can talk to each other via this network. For more information, write to AT&T EasyLink Services; P.O. Box 6391; Parsippany, NJ 07054. Call 1-800-367-7225 (ext. 4158).
THE SANDLOT (20TH CENTURY FOX, 1993, PG) DIRECTOR: DAVID MICKEY EVANS
MOVIE REVIEW BY JONATHAN PLUCKER
With the current (and necessary) spotlight on the developmental needs of gifted females, advocates for the gifted should also be aware of the special social/emotional needs of gifted boys. The Sandlot is an entertaining exploration of this topic, with some of the funniest scenes in recent film history. Although the movie is set in the summer of 1962, everyone will identify with the childhood experiences depicted on the screen. The story centers on an exceptionally bright fifth grader who has just moved to California with his mother and new stepfather. His struggles to fit in with the other boys sheds light on the importance of social acceptability to all children, especially those who are intellectually and creatively different. The sequence on problem solving and a surprise cameo make the movie both entertaining and educational (the final 15 minutes would be an excellent complement to a unit on problem-solving). Those who are not baseball fanatics will still enjoy this movie -- baseball is merely the backdrop for the children's adventures. Unfortunately, The Sandlot is still being marketed as a family baseball movie. This means that it won't be in the theatres for long, so catch it while you can (or rent it in a few months).
LIV ULLMANN: GIFTED ACTRESS, DIRECTOR AND WRITER BY MICHAEL E. WALTERS
Recently, I saw the Danish film, Sofie (1993), which was the brilliant debut of Liv Ullmann as a Director. This Norwegian actress is a wonderful example of a gifted individual who has triumphed and persevered because of her intense sensibility. Ms. Ullmann was born in Tokyo, Japan on December 16, 1939 where her father worked as an aeronautical engineer. When the Nazis occupied Norway in World War II, she and her family took refuge in the "little Norway" colony of Toronto, Canada. They returned to Norway after the War. As a teenager, she was very self-conscious about her imagined unattractiveness, and she took comfort in religion and reading. Upon discovering that she had a talent for performing dramatic recitals from her repertoire of readings, she decided to study dramatics. The State Theatre School in Oslo rejected her, so she studied in London. After returning to Norway, she was successful in a regional repertory company. Because of this achievement, she was finally received into the National Norwegian Theatre. As a result of this work, she encountered the great Swedish film Director, Ingmar Bergman. She became the star of several of Bergman's famous films, e.g., Persona. In this film she portrayed a mentally ill woman who retreats into silence. "In Persona (1966), Ms. Ullmann succeeded in demonstrating her remarkable acting ability virtually without benefit of words..." (from Current Biography, 1973). She has in the last two decades demonstrated talent as a writer, being the author of two books, Changes (1977) and Choices (1979). In addition, she has been a strong participant in many humanitarian causes. Now with her debut as the Director of Sofie, she continues to display her giftedness through her multi-faceted sensibility.
*******Maurice D. Fisher, Publisher, Copyright © by Gifted Education Press, June-July 1993*******