The Disciplined Mind: What All Students Should Understand

Howard Gardner, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (287p) ISBN 978-0-684-84324-7
Always one of the more thoughtful voices in the endless debate on education, Gardner (famous for Frames of Mind, in which he explained his theory of different kinds of intelligences) again proves himself insightful and fair-minded. While the title may lead readers to expect a work in the vein of those on ""traditional standards"" by Alan Booth or E.D. Hirsch, the book is actually a careful, patient refutation of such views. ""To put it crisply,"" Gardner states, ""I favor depth over breadth, construction over accumulation, the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake over the obeisance to utility, an individualized over a uniform education, and an education that is public in character."" A disciplined mind, Gardner insists, needs to be able to think meaningfully of ""the true, the beautiful, and the good."" To give students a sense of the true, teach Darwin and evolution; to expose them to the beautiful, teach Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro; to help them think about morality, have them study the Holocaust. But these examples, he emphasizes, are only suggestions. The true, the beautiful and the good could just as easily be taught through relativity, the ragas of India and the history of American slavery. Disciplined knowledge, Gardner contends, lasts forever and will give students the agility to make analogies and think laterally. Gardner is least compelling or realistic when he describes teaching strategies, for then he tends to veer into abstraction. Mostly, however, he is clear, relevant and agreeably open-minded as he makes a powerful argument that what is most important is not what you know but how you know. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1999
Release date: 05/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-14-029624-2
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