Term Paper: Howard Gardner and Evelyn Sowell

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[. . .] In the end, I think people want to give personal answers, answers that have meaning to themselves, but those answers should be, as it were, "passed through" the disciplines of the world, because we have learned to think about things in quite different ways in the past few hundred and the past thousand years."

In this manner, says Gardner, a child learns to learn about himself rather than scientific, mathematic or language formulas that represent relatively little if anything to him and his world.

Gardner favors: "...A curriculum that's focused on questions and which sees literacies and disciplines as means rather than as ends and also a curriculum in which projects and other kinds of rich experiences are really grounded, not because projects are good or bad in themselves, but because they're the best ways of giving answers and of making use of disciplines." (3.)

My conception of curriculum encompasses several theories but is best summed up by Evelyn Sowell's integrative theory in that she claims students make the most of learning when there is an integration of learning materials, making use of a student's different abilities to work at different levels. (4.)

There really is no one most important source for content, and according to Sowell, if the educator makes adjustments to curriculum based on different materials at hand, students have a better chance at success.

For example, she says it is important for the educator to scan as many instructional materials as possible, including textbooks, teacher resources, computer programs, manipulative materials and games. Teachers who reflect on their curriculum and test it by asking and interviewing as well as checking how well the curriculum is supported by local standardized tests is vital.

In this manner, the role of the teacher contributes a great deal to the success of the perfect student and the success of the perfect school. Teachers must constantly re-evaluate and change curriculum to keep up with the times and keep up with the changing student body, a student body that has many diverse talents and gifts. The role of the student is to assess what he is understanding and what he is not understanding and this must be voiced so that the teacher can enable the student to learn.

Sowell says: Curriculum is developed by people whose beliefs on what students should be learning and that processes involve decision making by people who are guided by their beliefs and values about what students should learn curriculum will evolve and change only if educators make internal transitions.

As for judging whether the ideal student has achieved his or her goals, authentic assessment given at year's end would be the ideal way to evaluate a student's peformance. I believe there is a great deal of room for improvement in the evaluation methods used at most schools. Most schools formally determine if the student has succeeded in achieving the goals for his schooling through standardized tests and essays, which only measure verbal and math skills that have been developed.

I think Authentic assessment is the most fair way to evaluate a student. Through the use of portfolios, journals and projects, teachers can keep on hand a more accurate reflection of a student's progress. The ideal school would use these methods of evaluation and only use standardized testing as necessary.

In conclusion, we still have a far way to go in our public education in the United States before we can actually see the perfect student graduate from the perfect school. Too often budgetary constraints and politicians' whims add to the demands on our education system. Theories presented by educators such as Gardner and Sowell should be examined, but implementation may take a long time and convincing the majority of these terrific ideas may take time. But once we prove the theories in terms that are acceptable to administrators and others with a voice, it is then that we can really think about a "perfect student" and a "perfect school."

1. Gardner, H., & Hatch, T. (1989). Multiple intelligences go to school: Educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Educational Researcher, 18(8), 4-9.

Interview transcribed from a video produced by Agency for Instructional Technology, Bloomington, Ind. (1994. Reprinted by Penn State University Website: (http://www.ed.psu.edu/insys/ESD/gardner/menu.html)

Sowell, E.,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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