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Howard Gardner
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Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Just a role model

In my definition, Tiger Woods does not qualify as a leader. A leader changes people's minds and behaviors significantly, chiefly by presenting powerful narratives and embodying
those narratives. Neither Tiger Woods, nor Captain Sullenberger, nor the Afghan officials on the ground qualify as leaders in those terms.

What Tiger Woods has been is a role model. As a role model for the value of deliberate practice and the possibility of attaining stardom with an unusual racial and ethnic background, he remains intact.

Where he has fallen down is as a role model of a certain kind of desirable person -- a good, quiet, responsible family man. To the extent that his reputation and influence are based on those factors, it will take a long time for him to rehabilitate himself...if he ever can. All of us will be watching to see whether he gets involved in more scrapes, and whether he tries to redeem himself more actively, for example, by spending real time on issues of human welfare.

Because of the way he handled his misbehavior-- stonewalling as much as possible, not offering
a True Explanation of what happened (doubtless because the truth is too unpalatable) -- he instead becomes yet another example of the celebrity who has behaved irresponsibly. I feel badly for those young persons who looked up to Tiger Woods as a more general role model,
rather than just as a reminder that, irrespective of your background, you can achieve
expertise in a challenging realm.

By Howard Gardner

 |  December 7, 2009; 1:57 PM ET
Category:  Making mistakes Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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He's a golf pro. Not a Catholic priest (oops...), teacher or any other sort of spiritual coyote...

If he was the best damned motorcycle mechanic/customizer painter/tattoo artist, nobody would bat an eye...

Let's lay off Mr. Woods and let him live his life and then show us a great golf game, OK media (you bunch of cub-tabloid writers)?

Posted by: 4Jaxon | December 8, 2009 5:09 PM
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While a peerless golfer, Tiger is not a leader; I agree with the unanimous opinion expressed here. Exceptional ability in athletics does not guarantee excellence in any other facet of life, clearly. Tiger is apparently rather immature and narcissistic at heart. I, for one, am tired of seeing his fist pumping antics on the golf course, and always prefer to see others win. No doubt there will be some snickers in the gallery behind him at future events, but the PGA will likely ignore his personal problems. Tiger is the biggest star and moneymaker for the PGA, and their marriage is not likely to end anytime soon, even if his marriage to Elin does.

Posted by: pookey12 | December 8, 2009 2:52 PM
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This will be over by next season. I predict a divorce, Elin will go back to Europe and Tiger will return to golf. His play may take a slight hit, but without bars on his bedroom window he will have lots of chances to let out his demons and move forward.

Its just another sports superstar with an enormous sexual appetite, and plenty of money (and a line of gold diggers) to keep his harem. Old news. I feel like I'm listening to the same people complain who are shocked by the repeated reports of orgies and miscellaneous sexual deviance inside Olympic Village every 2 years. Again, old news, Ive come to expect it, you should too.

Infidelity is as old as the worlds oldest profession. If you base your opinion of sports figures on anything but their play, you will be shocked how empty your glass becomes. Even many of the greats, Ruth comes to mind, were TERRIBLE role models outside of their sport.

Tiger, make your name in the game. Divorce your wife - its the responsible thing to do now that your panty wall has been exposed.

Stay single. Infidelity problem solved.

Posted by: trident420 | December 8, 2009 2:07 PM
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shut up howard. there is already a body of evidence stating that your 'innovations' of multiple intelligence is bunk, or at the very least, way over-vauled. at best, it is confusing what is simple: teaching.

master teacher and student, is all there is in true teaching. your'e NOT that mix in the real world.

go back to being a brahmin or whatever it is you do.

Posted by: fshaffer | December 8, 2009 1:42 PM
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Cynical remarks abound; hopefully all will settle, but I suspect this will affect his course performance. He will not the golfer we have known. His dedication, concentration, now tainted, those special qualities will fade.

Posted by: owing2 | December 8, 2009 12:46 PM
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