All young people will acquire and exhibit aesthetic preferences. But only those who are exposed to a range of works of art, who observe how these works are produced, who understand something about the artist behind the works, and who encounter thoughtful discussion of issues of craft and taste are likely to develop an aesthetic sense that goes beyond schlock or transcends what happens to be the most popular among peers at the moment.
Howard Gardner, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed, p. 135
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
While I do not agree with all of Gardner’s arguments and conclusions, I believe this is an excellent book for those educators and parents who are struggling to convey truth, beauty, and goodness in a modern world which so often struggles with those concepts and their content. The most important message that Gardner conveys is that we must educate ourselves and our children to be fact-checkers and truth-seekers. Rather than merely filling heads with information, education must be geared to creating thinkers and innovators who are familiar with the methods by which truth is sought in the various academic disciplines. In history, for instance, while remembering certain people, places, and dates is important, what is far more important is knowing how historians discover and discern historical information in the first place. To this end, Gardner recommends continuing and expanding the Socratic Method of teaching as one that engages the minds of students a meaningful way. I recommend this book for parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in a traditional education for the modern age.
Note that disciplinary understanding is not the same as the mere accrual of facts (sometimes termed subject-matter knowledge). Facts are fine but they do not in themselves involve any disciplinary understanding. Moreover, in this day of handheld devices, there is little point in memorizing facts that are instantly available at one’s fingertips. Rather, educators should help students to understand the ways in which disciplinary specialists establish and confirm knowledge. This acquisition necessarily involves immersion in the kinds of activities in which specialists are regularly engaged — carrying out proofs in mathematics, making systematic observations and conducting experiments in science, or poring over documents and graphic materials in history.
Howard Gardner, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed, p. 125