‹Loving the Distance Between Them:’ Thinking Beyond Howard Gardner’s “Five Minds for the Future”

Journal of Business Ethics 83 (2):285-296 (2008)
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In his book, Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner offers both a constructive critique of current educational practices and an alternative vision for the future of education. Gardner, best known for his seminal work on multiple intelligences, grounds his major conclusions primarily on the results of his impressive, decade-long, and massive Good Works Project. Despite my several agreements and significant overlap with Howard Gardner, I believe that there is insufficient evidence to accept fully his policy prescriptions. Gardner's selection of the five minds of the future - the disciplined, synthesizing, creating, respectful, and ethical minds - is based on a set of limiting assumptions concerning globalization, good work, individuality, power and control, disciplines as value-free enterprises, ethics as the point of view of the universe, and the completeness of his list. This paper suggests that our conception of education might be dramatically expanded to include a more critical and distanced stance towards: globalization, the current goals of business, individualism, the traditional disciplines, and even ethics than Gardner currently imagines. Its aims can and should be broadened to include not only good work, but also love and play. Students must learn how to control their environments, but also how to appreciate and accept life's inevitable difficulties and limits. Ethics should certainly play a more central role in education as Gardner correctly emphasizes, but our understanding of ethics must include not only respect but also care; not only principles but also dialog. To accomplish all of this, however, requires us to think beyond Gardner's five minds to include additional "mental dispositions" like the caring, critical, intersubjective, spiritual, and joyful minds. Each of these "minds" is explored in this paper.



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