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Monday, July 11, 2011

Mahatma's book proclaimed a must read for Harvard graduates

As fresh Harvard degree holders head into the world, one of the authors featured in the unversity's Harvard Gazette considers Gandhi to be "the most important human being of the last millennium".

Howard Gardner, professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard University is currently recommending Mahatma Gandhi's The Story of My Experiments with Truth as an essential book for today's graduates.

Howard Gardner, professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard University, who authored Truth, Beauty and Goodness Reframed, says: "He [Gandhi] not only realised that individuals of different backgrounds, religions and values had to be able to confront one another non-violently; going beyond Christ's example, he worked out the methods, the algebra, whereby such confrontations would be staged and resolved, ultimately strengthening each of the struggling parties. In addition to his indispensable role in the Indian independence movement, he inspired activists in South Africa, China, Egypt and the America of Martin Luther King."

Commenting on Gandhi's autobiography, Gardner thinks it "is neither artfully worded nor elegantly composed but it describes in remarkably informative detail the ways in which Gandhi developed his own persona, learned from his mistakes, and inspired others. If one wants to understand the difference that one person can make, and how he went about his mission, there is no better source."

Howard Gardner's work around multiple intelligences has had a profound impact on thinking and practice in education - especially in the United States. His work has been marked by a desire not to just describe the world but to help to create the conditions to change it.

I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place. Knowledge is not the same as morality, but we need to understand if we are to avoid past mistakes and move in productive directions. An important part of that understanding is knowing who we are and what we can do... Ultimately, we must synthesize our understandings for ourselves. The performance of understanding that try matters are the ones we carry out as human beings in an imperfect world which we can affect for good or for ill. (Howard Gardner 1999: 180-181)

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