HYDERABAD: Revamping education system in a country like India will take 50 to 100 years of hard work, believes Professor Howard Gardner of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, he was in the city as part of his six-city tour in the country.
The professor of cognitive psychology emphasized that for India, “there are no quick-fix solutions for changing the education system.” Speaking to the media at the Indian School of Business, the educationist spoke of the narrow framework in which educational institutions and learning are judged.
“The observation that if it is not quantified, it is not useful is a fall out of neoliberalist policies of the US and India. Quantifying intelligence does not take into account only school tests. If a child is doing well in school, do not spare a milli-second trying to quantify his abilities. Quantifying the various forms of intelligence helps when a child suffers from learning disabilities,” said the professor whose hypothesis of various forms of intelligences has been adapted across schools in the US to mentor students in a specific skill from a young age.
The professor pointed out that in India, where education is more about competition and less about understanding, the evaluation criteria has its drawbacks.
“There is a funnel problem in India where a large number of students are competing to get into a few elite schools such as the IITs. The admission process in universities in the US is much better as intake is not based on a single test score. It takes into account the candidate’s hobbies, interests and other aspects,” explained Gardner who visited IIT Chennai before his stop in the city.
He also underlined the importance of social capital a child brings to the school.
“Schools cannot foster creativity if they believe in error-free learning,” opined Gardner introducing his hypothesis which talks about five different minds and seven types of intelligences.
Among the five different minds which cover the psychology of an individual, the ‘synthesizing mind’ will be respected in the coming years, observed the cognitive psychologist.
“The ability to correlate information and connect relevant information is the function of a synthesizing mind. But there is also the need to develop an ethical mind,” he said. Sharing an anecdote, he said if students at Harvard were asked to read only one book in their life, he would recommend to them Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, My Experiments With Truth. “It is not the most elegantly written book but captures best the ethical dilemmas an individual faces,” he said.