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As Writing and the Gutenberg Press Changed the World, Are Apps Creating an App Generation? Howard Gardner & Katie Davis

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H.G.: Sure.  I'm by training a psychologist and literally thirty years ago I published a book about multiple intelligences called Frames of Mind, and as a psychologist I was critiquing the notion that there's just a single continuum of smart to average to dumb and if a person is smart in one thing he or she should be smart in everything and if they're not smart in one thing they're going to be dumb in everything, and the Theory of Multiple Intelligences claims that human beings have several rather independent forms of thinking.  

When we talk about intelligence we usually mean people who do well in school and that's fine but it's certain kind of intelligences, it doesn't predict who is going to be good in the workplace, who is going to be entrepreneurial, who is going to be artistic, who is going to be mechanical, etcetera.  That idea has become pretty well known in education now; Dan Goldman's work in emotional intelligence is very close to my own interest in interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence, work and learning styles -- I don't particularly like that term but is also recognition that kids learn in different ways and the teachers should be attuned to those ways.  

I developed these ideas long before I was thinking about the digital media but once the web developed and then web 2.0 and then increasingly small devices, pads and smart phones and so on, I realized that this is a boon to multiple intelligence's kind of thinking because if you just have a teacher and a text book that really limits the  modes of delivery and the extent to which you can individualize, but now anybody who sayd there's only one way to teach algebra or only one way to teach Spanish would be seen as being ludicrous because we know we can present things graphically, we can present them artistically, we can do it in more hands-on kinds of ways, using social networks, mashing things and so on, so, even though MI theory was developed in a pre-digital era, it's very compatible with Katie and my interests and how kids might be deeply affected by living in an app-rich environment.

R.K.: Okay, and last question about multiple intelligences before we jump in to the book, what, how many different kinds of intelligences are there now and what are your newest thoughts that have emerged in recent years in terms of the model?

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H.G.: Sure.  Initially I listed seven intelligences and these were based on a lot of research ranging from historical and anthropological investigations to what we knew about the nervous system, and even a bit about the behavior genetics, thirty years ago and that list I can just give you is linguistic intelligence, logical intelligence, musical intelligence, spacial intelligence, bodily intelligence, and two kinds of humanly related intelligence, inter-understanding of others, and intra-understanding of yourself.  

Since then I've officially anointed another intelligence which I call the naturalist intelligence, that's the capacity to make significant distinctions in the world of nature between one plant and another, one animal and another, one cloud configuration and so on, and I've talked more speculatively about an existential intelligence which I call the intelligence of big questions like, "what's it all about?" "why are we here?" "what is death?" "what is love?" and what I call pedagogical intelligence which means not simply knowing how to do something well or how to understand it well but how to teach it to other people who may not have that skill or knowledge.  

But speaking honestly I am no longer in the intelligence branding business so to me it's important to say that people have different kinds of minds, they have different strengths, and my list is a good, opening list; but I don't claim to be doing benchtop research on that anymore.  

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R.K.: Okay, so can each of you tell me a story that exemplifies the message of your book?  I really believe that stories tap in to reaching people in ways that just discussion or just the words don't do it.  So can you start with a story?

H.G.: Katie, why don't you start with a story?  Maybe one we begin the book with or something like that.

K.D.:  Sure, absolutely.  So, in our book, The App Generation, we have a sort of running dialogue that permeates the book and it's a dialogue amongst three generations so it's Howard, myself, and my little sister Molly who is quite a bit younger than I am, as she likes to point out she is seventeen, I'm thirty four, and Howard is a little bit older than that so throughout the book, Molly -

R.K.: Can you say how old you are, Howard?

H.G.: Yes, I'm now seventy, I was two years younger when we actually recorded that conversation so I was sixty eight.

R.K.: Okay.

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K.D.: Right and so throughout the book we sort of reflect on the way each of us has come of age with the technologies of our time and when we were talking with Molly she told us a story about some classmates in her school, in high school -- she has since moved on to college -- but there was a practice at her school of the senior high school girls going on Facebook and "marrying" the freshman boys.  Now these were the popular senior girls marrying the up and coming star athletes among the freshman boys, and often, and this was done very symbolically, so often times these girls in real life were dating the senior boys who were on the same sports teams as the freshman boys they were marrying.  

And Howard and I were taken aback by this practice and this story, because it was totally foreign to us and we were trying to figure out what's going on here, so we had Molly kind of unpack it for us a little bit and we realized this practice really touched on three key themes that run through our books and our research over the last six years, and those are what we call the Three I's, of identity, intimacy, and imagination which are three areas of experience which are particularly salient for young people as they grow up.  But we looked at this story and we thought wow, you know?  There's a lot of interesting things going with respect to how these young people are presenting themselves.  

The identities, as married symbolically on Facebook, that we could use to talk about identity and what that looks like in a digital world.  Of course relationships, this was not a true intimate relationship that they were displaying but an act of some sort of relationship, a marker of peer group affiliation that is a practice, the way young people mark their peer affiliations online is very deliberate, very symbolic, so we saw evidence of that in this practice.  Finally, imagination and creativity, you know this is all about a symbolic, creative act so it allowed us to explore what does creative expression look like in this new digital world?

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 


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