Many of you are surely familiar with Gardner's theory of Multiple intelligences. Howard Gardner in fact has been one of those men who most of all taught an important lesson to us teachers: learners' intelligences cannot be all measured with the same meter, and even I.Q. test are a very poor instrument. I (I mean: Witch Hazel...) have written this story to explain Gardner theory to people who get easily bored by theories but always like to be told a story.

Once upon a time there was an old king who lived in his castle with his old queen. They were very sad and unhappy because they had no children and the days when they could hope to have one were undoubtedly over. So one day the Ministry of Happy and Peaceful Household asked the king: “Why don’t you pay a visit to that witch living in a hut in the depth of the forest? People believe she has magic powers which may enable anyone to have children!”

The king: “Dear friend: my wife and I are too old for that. At our age we spend most of our time watching TV and doing crosswords: I don’t think she can do anything for us!”

The ministry: “I insist on you going to the witch’s hut, my king! And after all, besides missing the last episode of “The beautiful and the bold”, you have nothing else to lose…”

So it happened that the king went to the witch and asked her to help him have an heir. “But I want my child to be good-looking, intelligent and high-cultured!” He added in a haste.

The witch: “There’s no problem: first you’ve to swallow this bluish pill” and she handed the king a box which was labelled ViagricusIt'll make you behave… ahem.. I don’t know if you remember whiiich way I'm talking about Well, follow my instructions and your wife will soon get pregnant! But I warn you, from the very beginning of her pregnancy she will have to sleep with a thick and heavy book on her belly up to the ninth month”.

The king: “Is that all?” The witch: “Yes!” The king: “How much do I owe you?” The witch: “Five fantasti-million dollar!” The witch had read a lot of Micky Mouse comics in her childhood… “And with no receipt!” The king shouted: “This is not honest because, first of all, you have to pay taxes as all other citizens; secondly, it’s too much for one little bluish pill! I will give you only one fantasti-million dollars!”

The witch watched him leaving the hut while she kept cackling “Ah! Ah! Ah! His child will be smart indeed but in such a queer way that nobody will realize that… Ah! Ah! Ah! Not even her parents…”

The months passed and everything happened just as the witch had foreseen: the royal couple … ahemmissed one episode of the Forrester family saga… and nine months later a beautiful little princess was born. Of course her mother had slept all the time with an enormous National Geografic Society book on her belly, in spite of the fact that the book raised more and more in height and, during last month, it risked to collapse on the floor each time she sneezed or tried to turn on her other side.

The princess grew up and reached school age. Her father was very proud of her: she was a very lively girl even if sometimes she behaved a little too much like a tomboy and she preferred jumping around the castle park in search of squirrels and rabbits instead of complying with the court etiquette. However she was very smart since she was already able to read and write without having attended a school; she was a bit too limited in her tastes, perhaps, as her favourite books were only about animals from all the continents. But, after all, she was still a little girl… So her parents didn’t worry when she had to sit for her I.Q. entry test at the Royal Elementary School. Yet, when the results were issued they felt really discouraged and ashamed: their loved daughter had scored a scanty fifty!!!

The king shouted: “The witch will pay for that!” And off he went to the witch’s hut who seemed to be totally unaware of his wrath as she kept pairing, polishing and lacquering her long claw-like  nails. Finally she spoke: “Your daughter is not stupid at all! On the contrary she’s EXTREMELY INTELLIGENT!!! What kind of book did her mother put on her belly?” The king: “A National Geographic Society book… and a very expensive luxurious edition, full of photos of every species of living animals …” The witch burst laughing: “Ah! Ah! Ah! I can see now… Ah! Ah! Ah!” The king frowned but she didn’t restrain herself. “Well, never mind, king!” She became suddenly serious and businesslike “If you want to understand what’s been going on, first you must give me those four fantasti-million dollars you still owe me, then I will give you the address of the seven-dwarfs-plus-one village” The king paid and the witch said, after cashing (without giving any receipt): “Each dwarf lives in a different cottage and each of them has a different personality. They are all very intelligent creatures but each one is smart in his own way. By observing their behaviours and life styles you will learn a lot of things about your daughter and will also learn to respect her”. The king paid and set out for the village while the witch was still shouting: “You must ask for Howard Gardner’s Smart Dwarfs’ Village! It’s not far from here: just take the first turning on the left, cross the road at the traffic lights and turn right: the village is on the right, you can’t miss it!”

The king followed the instructions and arrived in front of a board which had these mysterious words written on it:

Howard Gardner’s Smart Dwarfs’ Village

We are as we are

and nobody who intends to bother us

is allowed to trespass this line 

In fact there was a long red line drawn on the ground which seemingly marked the village boundaries. The whole situation was disquieting and menacing: the sky was getting darker and cloudier while the first thunders began to make themselves heard and vultures flew drawing circles and spirals above his head … was it a bad omen or was only his imagination?

go to part two!

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