Part 2 of 2, of the Transcript of the radio interview Multiple Intelligences Genius Howard Gardner-- Are Apps Producing an App Generation?
Interview Guests: Howard Gardner and Katie Davis
authors of The App Generation; How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World
Howard Gardner is a rock star-- to hundreds of thousands of teachers, to psychologists and to me, because of his development of the Multiple Intelligences theory. Dr. Gardner is Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and senior director of Harvard Project Zero, an educational research group. He is renowned as father of the theory of multiple intelligences.
Katie Davis is assistant professor, University of Washington Information School, where she studies the role of digital media technologies in adolescents' lives.
Interview transcript- Part 2
K.D.: Okay sure, was there a particular place that you wanted to go with the Three I's?
R.K.: Well why don't you start off by how you came up with the Three I's and the kind of big picture and then you can go in to talking about each one of them briefly?
K.D.: Okay sure, and Howard you should., if you have something to interject with the way we came up with them please do but generally, we started this research, well we started looking at the role of digital media technologies in people's lives back in two thousand six, and then a few years later we started this project in particular that led to this book where we were looking at the role of technology in young people's development, and we started by interviewing forty veteran teachers in the Northeast who had been teaching for at least twenty years and we just asked them generally, "what changes have you noticed in the students who you've been teaching over the last several years?" and we didn't say anything about digital media but of course it came up right away, and through our analysis of those interviews we found that a lot of what they were saying started to cohere around these three themes of identity, intimacy, and imagination, which are really important areas of experience for young people growing up, so in adolescence identity is a very important developmental task.
Developing an identity that resonates with you and is recognized by other people, that's a important task for young people to grapple with during adolescence. The same with intimacy, developing relationships outside of your family, and ones that are satisfying and also support your identity and then, imagination which is our "i" word for creativity.
As you go out and enter into the work force and society, what creations are you going to contribute? And so those were the three areas that we started to focus on and then we went back and did a bunch of more research with those three areas in mind.
So we conducted seven focus groups with fifty eight professionals who had worked, again for many, many years with young people in a variety of contexts from camp counselors, religious leaders, after school educators, art teachers, and psychotherapists, and again we asked them what they have noticed and the Three I's came up again and we also asked them specifically this time some pointed questions about each "I", and as we were analyzing our results we started to think about the connection to apps and the features of apps, and so for instance, with respect to identity, we saw this pattern of, as we have already discussed a little bit, right now this focus on external packaging, what you might call The Packaged Self, a very polished, brand-like view of oneself which is really very similar to the very visual brand-like icon that you see on your phone for each of your apps. You can immediately picture, I'm sure, the Twitter bird or the Wikipedia "W" or the Amazon shopping cart and these icons are very brand-like and this is the type of identity that we're seeing in young people today. It's becoming very externalized and brand-like. Howard, did you want to add anything at this point to the identity piece?
H.G.: No, but just to break the flow a bit, in approaching this whole issue, I had my own apps which didn't come from my smart device, but rather from my own studies from when I was a student and one of those apps, so to speak, was the work of Erik Erikson who in my time was a very famous psychoanalyst and happened to have been my undergraduate teacher at Harvard College, and Erikson talked about different crises which young people face in the course of growing up and the notions of identity, intimacy, and what he called generativity, which we changed to imagination, refer to three things which we all have to deal with as we go from being kids to being grown ups; one, who we are, two, how do we relate to others who we're close to and then three, what do we give to the world both biologically in terms of offspring but also in terms of work and play and ideas.
So the app I brought to this was an intellectual framework but I don't think we had to force-feed it, because in fact the crises that Erik Erikson described a half century ago are ones that people encounter in any kind of a modern developed society. Whether notions of identity, intimacy, and imagination would apply thousands of years ago or to very small communities, societies, we don't know but since everybody who we are looking at, everybody who reads this book will be aware of what it means to grow up in the world today.