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The 5 Minds of Learners

Howard Gardner is one of the prominent figures in the field of cognitive and developmental psychology. He is best renowned for his multiple intelligences theory, a theory which has had some far reaching impact on the pedagogy and teaching practice. The introduction of this theory coupled with the need for insightful minds to help in sketching " a nation at risk" chart in the middle of the 80s of last century, Howard made a remarkable presence within the educational circles in the States. He has hugely contributed to the discussion surrounding the role of standardized tests and test scores in students learning and what is commonly known as "achievement gap".

In one of his recent books entitled "The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach " and which I am presently reading, Howard outlined 5 kinds of minds learners have. I really liked this categorization and thought you might find it interesting as well. I also highly recommend his book for you. It is by all means a must read.

1- The Disciplined Mind
The primary purpose of schools is to develop disciplined minds, minds that can think in a pre-planned way and have pre-arranged attitude.

2- The  Synthesizing mind
This mind features the capacity to review large bodies of information, to distinguish what is truly important from that which is transient, misleading, or simply wrong; to combine the important notions in such a pattern that one can hold on to them ( otherwise the synthesis fails ); and then, unless one is a hermit, to convey these ideas to others with varying degrees of knowledge in ways that they can understand. While the capacity to synthesize well is more crucial than ever, we know little about how to nurture the synthesizing mind.

3- The Creating Mind
The mentality that explores the new, raises new questions, provides new answers, or ushers in or exemplifies new ways of thinking. In the current phrase, it is "thinking outside the box". This capacity is more important than ever both in school and in business (where it is often called 'innovation,' and sometimes  termed 'entrepreneurship'). Almost everything that can be automated will be; and so unless one can go beyond the familiar, one may have difficulty finding in a niche in our complex, quickly changing society.

4- This Respectful Mind
This mind acknowledges the many differences among human beings, in regard to race, ethnicity, class, culture, personality, and other variables. Going beyond this recognition, the respectful person seeks to understand 'the other', to put oneself in her shoes, and, to the extent possible, to make common cause, to work together, to achieve positive ends.

5-  The Ethical Mind
This mind is more difficult to describe, more elusive to achieve, and, strictly speaking, lies outside the ken of young children. The ethical worker, the ethical citizen, is one who thinks in terms of the roles that he or she is expected to fulfill as an adult.

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