Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Whole New Mind--Review

As a teacher, one of the things I wish I had been required to study when I was getting my degrees, was brain science. I think it only makes sense that teachers have some idea how the brain works. After all, that is the organ we are charged with helping to develop. If we don’t know how it works, it makes it that much harder to do our jobs.

I recently finished a book by Daniel H. Pink titled A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. It was a terrific read. He makes the point, cogently, that both halves of the brain are required to get through life. He talks about how for the last hundred and fifty years or so, the left-brain dominant functions of the brain have been the ones to accentuate and develop in order to succeed. The right-brain functions were there and used, but in a subordinate position.

Because of the factors he calls the Three A’s--Abundance, Asia, and Automation--the left-brain dominant skills that have been the keys to success in the recent past will take a back seat to right-brain skills. We will need to focus on creating new things and in combining information in new and innovative ways. These are the keys to success in the near future.

Pink discusses six skill sets that will be essential in the future: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. In the detailed discussion of each, replete with examples and quotes, he lays out the necessity of each one. He shows how the skills are already being used and ways to strengthen each skill set. In fact, I think the end of each section, where he gives ideas how to strengthen your own skills within each set, are of particular value to teachers.

As a right-brainer myself, I especially enjoyed this book. I recommend this book to all educators. It is easy to read and full of interesting and helpful ideas.

Here is a video of Oprah Winfrey discussing the book with Pink. When she gave the commencement speech at Stanford, she bought a copy for each member of the graduating class.

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