Multiple Intelligences Newsletter, Vol 30, No 4

December 1, 2020

Hi MI Readers,

Happy post-Thanksgiving to my USA friends and happy greetings to other readers, too. These are parlous times around the world, but we all, I am sure, have reason to give thanks. Covid vaccines are on the way and while it will take longer than we like to get back to normal, this is encouraging news. Personally, while I am thankful for Zoom I am eager for life to return to a point at which Zoom is just an option.

If you’re looking for a cool holiday present for a friend (or yourself), I suggest Howard Gardner’s newest book, A Synthesizing Mind. A memoir, Gardner reflects on the trajectory of his life including, of course, MI. It’s impossible to summarize the book or convey its appeal in brief, but the last line of Gardner’s introduction is quite compelling: “Looking across my life’s work, I try to demonstrate why the positioning of powerful concepts, their exploration through wide and careful research, and their communication to both the scholarly community and the public is a worthwhile calling, one that we humans should continue to pursue and, indeed, to cherish as long as our species survives.” This book would be a great gift, whether or not the recipient is an educator.

Way back in the 1970s when I was teaching fifth grade, I was a chess aficionado. (That’s a fancy way of saying that I liked to play chess but wasn’t very good.) I taught chess to my students and we often played over lunch or at recess. More than being a fun game and an opportunity for many students to find success, I also felt that playing chess was a great way to teach kids to anticipate the consequences of their actions. The student who couldn’t understand why punching someone in the arm might cause a problem could see why moving a rook to this square might be a bad decision. And, hopefully, sometimes the logic used for rooks transferred to what to do and not do while standing in line.

Later, when I was leading New City School, we held various board-game tournaments to show kids that you didn’t need batteries to have fun, and chess was prominent among them (along with checkers, Boggle, and Othello). Each grade’s tournament produced winners and they all played an adult in a school-wide tournament. I simultaneously played the chess grade-level winners in the library. Once we began to have a chess club, I was pleased to win half of my games. This picture features the students who beat me eating their ice cream to celebrate their victory. (Notice the size of their group!)

Howard Gardner has said that skill in playing chess draws from both the logical-mathematical and spatial intelligences, and the latter was prominent in the recent Netflix series, “The Queen’s Gambit” as Beth Harmon envisioned chess moves on the ceiling. The series has given chess a boost of momentum and this issue of Intelligence Connection features some thoughts on chess. Dr. Google says, “, the most-visited global website for online chess play, expects 10 years’ worth of site growth to occur within the next few months. It has gained more than 700,000 members over the past three weeks, according to figures provided to Sporting News, and last weekend elevated to 9.1 million games played per day.”

I regularly read Kristi’s Corner, a weekly column written by Kristi Arbetter, an instructional coach in the Hazelwood, MO school district. No matter how busy or tired I am, it always gives me joy and causes me to think. I thought you might enjoy her October 16 contribution, stemming from chess.

This article, “Story of Queen’s Gambit Raises Questions for Educators,” by Geoff Johnson, looks at Beth Harmon’s giftedness and questions whether we should be doing more for students with extreme talents.

Finally, continuing on the theme of exceptionally gifted children, I reprint a column by Ellen Winner, “A Rage To Learn” (which was also in the November 2018 issue of Intelligence Connections), now from Howard Gardner’s website.

Thanks for reading. I’d be delighted to hear from you!

Thomas R. Hoerr, PhD
Facilitator of the ASCD MI PIC
Scholar in Residence, UMSL
Emeritus Head of the New City School

This network is sponsored by ASCD as part of their effort to improve the quality of education for all children.

ASCD PICs (Professional Interest Communities) are member-initiated groups designed to unite people around a common area of interest in the field of education. PICs allow participants to exchange ideas, share information, identify and solve problems, grow professionally, and establish collegial relationships.

You can learn about ASCD’s networks, publications, conferences, workshops, and the dialogues sponsored by ASCD at You can also register for the free, daily ASCD SmartBrief.


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