Adolescents in Costa Rica and the five minds of the future

Adolescents in Costa Rica During my psychological practice, I have visited several schools, colleges and universities in Costa Rica and in amazement I found that in most, not to say that in all, most of the students don’t have even the smallest clue about key social skills, let alone multiple intelligences and emotional intelligence. I will not deny that I felt too “ashamed” about this situation; you can interpret the word “shame” as you like but you’ll possibly be correct anyway.

Multiple intelligences is a group of skills or abilities that dominate a person. For psychology, multiple intelligences are of paramount importance, so a known psychologist named Howard Gardner, who has worked in intelligence, developed the concept of multiple intelligences a while ago. At a conference in Geneva in 2008 he presented his ideas on the minds of the future, (in his book, The Five Minds of the Future) a statement of the necessary educational policies whose centerpiece I would like to share with you and I summarize here:

My suggestion was a compromise between what is important and necessary, in the sense that the minds of the future are important skills that our teenagers and society need in this century. What is necessary, and what is right is for education in Costa Rica to begin incorporating this in their classrooms. Of course, my main interest is psychology, but now I’m speaking from the perspective of educational development, that’s why I expose Five Minds, which I would like it to be developed in our teenagers.

Adolescents in Costa Rica and the five minds of the future

1. The disciplined mind:

A mind based on consistent practice to master the main styles of thought, and that manages to be an expert in something (or end up an expert working for a low salary). This is in clear opposition to the study of facts, information. It facilitates a disciplined mind to make sense of the events and developments that generates the world (good or bad) that facilitates further decisions on how to approach argued important cases. An example of ill-disciplined mind (hype ) is when people see everything through a single discipline.

2. The resolute mind:

The resolute mind realizes today, that people are flooded with information. You have to decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Additionally, you must be able to combine the information in a coherent manner that makes sense for one, and can be transmitted to others. In one of the talks I have given about Gardner, a teacher in the audience raised her hand and asked, “Is it not synthesize what teachers have always done?”. “I, like you, we have been in business for years to synthesize, but we realize we have not thought about how important it is and how we can help others become better synthesizers” he replied.

3. The creative mind:

The creative mind is embodied in creative people. According to Gardner (2007) this mind is embodied by Einstein in the sciences, and Virginia Woolf in the Arts. Creative people are responsible for creating new things that are finally accepted. If an idea or a product is accepted too easy, it is not creative, and if it’s not accepted, is just a false example. Acceptance can happen quickly or can take a long time. A person cannot be creative unless it has mastered at least one discipline, art or craft. And cognitive science shows that, on average, it takes about ten years (or 10,000 hours of “flight”). You cannot “think outside the box” (think out of the box) unless you have a box.

Gardner writes that creative people are taking chances, they take risks, they’re not afraid to fall, they themselves are rising and wonder: what I can learn from this?.

He says he has been asked many times how to make people creative. His answer is always the same: “It is much easier to prevent someone to be creative, to make someone creative.” How do you prevent?, he asks: “telling the children, young people, there is only one correct answer and to punish the student when answering the wrong answer. That does not encourage creativity. ” Creative people, he says, change their jobs with the way they think and act in those around them.

First, the personality and temperament are at least as important as the cognitive faculties. Second: People think of creativity as a property of the person (“I am creative”). But the ultimate criterion is whether, in the long term, creative people change the way other people think and behave. So the bad news is that you can die without knowing that you are creative, but the good news is that the person will never know for sure that he is not creative.

4. The assertive mind:

The assertive mind is very easy to explain, but that does not mean it is easy to achieve. The assertive mind is no more or less that what gave birth to the League of Nations and the United Nations. It is to recognize that the world is composed of people who look different, think differently, have different beliefs and value systems, and can no longer be unsociable and live in complete isolation.

Gardner points out that in this mindset, the greatest mission lies with educators and because if we want to teach people to respect their neighbors, we should provide models and offer education that fosters a favorable view about it; this, especially, when the power of relationships is asymmetric. In the complex world in which we live in, says the psychologist, we should, whenever possible, give priority to respect for those people who have a different origin and beliefs to us, and expect them to return the same attitude.

5. The ethical mind:

The ethical mind involves a high level of meditation. Not in terms of what my rights are, but what are my responsibilities as a citizen and as a worker within the school context. The ethical mind ponders about the different roles that are fulfilled and on the appropriate ways to fulfill those roles and tries (not always successfully, but at least tries), to meet those responsibilities, trying to carry out what is called meaningful work and a meaningful life. Do not focus so much on the next prize, but in the long term: what kind of human beings we want to be and what kind of world we want to live in.


  • Gardner, H. (1983) Multiple Intelligences. Barcelona. Editorial Paidós
  • Gardner, H. (1999) Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century.
  • Gardner. H. (2007) the five minds of the future. Barcelona. Editorial Paidós.
  • Klein, Perry D. (1997) multiplying the problems of intelligence by eight: A critique of Gardner’s theory, Canadian Journal of Education, 22(4), 377-394.
  • Klein, Perry D. (1998) A response to Howard Gardner: Trust ability, empirical evidence, and pedagogical usefulness in educational psychology Canadian Journal of Education, 23(1), 103-112.