READING GUIDE: Gandhi, Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Part I, chapters XIII-XXIV
In his chapter about Influencers, Howard Gardner mentions many characteristics of direct leaders when they are young. I list them here in bullet form:
· Most influencers are not particularly gifted in disciplinary study (i.e., in a domain) and do not like school.
· They are seen as youths of talent and energy who lack a clear sense of where they are going to end up.
· Influencers favor certain intelligences. They need to be gifted in language, particularly spoken language, because of the importance of storytelling.
· The other area of strength inheres in the realm of personal intelligence. It is vital that Influencers understand other individuals: what motivates them, how to work cooperatively with them . . . , how to manipulate them if necessary.
· Influencers [are willing], often from a very young age, to challenge authority, to take risks in order to achieve their goals.
· Influencers cut their teeth in local circles: their family, their group of friends, their schoolmates. The diameter of the circle rapidly expands. . . .
· Influencers often crave different experiences. . . .
Gardner, of course, uses Mahatma Gandhi as his case study to illustrate the category of Influencers, and he may have been thinking especially about Gandhi when he formulated this list. I think, however, we’ll find in our first reading from Gandhi’s autobiography that he is a good, but not a perfect, fit. As you read, try to determine: which of Gardner’s points are present in young Gandhi during his time in England? On the other hand, are there any characteristics that are notable by their absence? In the freewrite on Wednesday, please expect two or three items that address these questions—and be prepared with specific examples from the text to support your claims.