Published Online: April 24, 2007
Published in Print: April 25, 2007, as Thinking Ahead

Book Review

Thinking Ahead

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Best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor of cognition and education at Harvard University, sets forth in his new book, Five Minds for the Future, his prediction for which mental capacities will be of greatest need in the increasingly globalized, rapidly changing 21st-century world. The five “minds” of his title—the disciplinary mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind, and the ethical mind—differ from “intelligences” in that they are processes instead of aptitudes, he explains—ones that we must further develop through learning. The following is an excerpt:

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No one knows precisely how to fashion an education that will yield individuals who are disciplined, synthesizing, creative, respectful, and ethical. I have argued that our survival as a planet may depend on the cultivation of this pentad of mental dispositions. Indeed, without respect, we are likely to destroy one another; without ethics, we return to a Hobbesian or Darwinian world, where the common good is nowhere to be seen. But I firmly believe that each human faculty should also be justified on noninstrumental grounds as well. As a species, we human beings have impressive positive potentials—and history is replete with individuals who exemplify one or more of these kinds of minds: the discipline of a John Keats or a Marie Curie; the synthesizing capacities of Aristotle or Goethe; the creativity of a Martha Graham or a Bill Gates; the respectful examples of those who sheltered Jews during the Second World War or who participated in commissions of truth and reconciliation during more recent decades; the ethical examples of ecologist Rachel Carson, who alerted us to the dangers of pesticides, and of statesman Jean Monnet, who helped Europe move from belligerent to peaceful institutions. Education in the broadest sense should help more human beings realize the most impressive features of the most remarkable representatives of our species.
From Five Minds for the Future (Harvard Business School Press,; 204 pp., $24.95 hardback).

Vol. 26, Issue 34, Page 34

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