“We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past.”. This quote stands out among the others in Daniel Pink’s presentation at the Minnesota 2008 TIES conference in December. Daniel Pink is not an educator, he is an economist and author. His presentation included many ideas from his 2006 book, “A Whole New Mind”. His presentation was insightful and relevant to today’s teachers and schools. In many ways, the fact that Mr. Pink is not an educator allows him to step outside of the educational arena and to see things in a global perspective. It is sometimes difficult as an educator to see things beyond the classroom and the community. However, I believe that Mr. Pink offers educators an opportunity to challenge the status quo and to look towards what students need to be successful in a very different future.
Daniel Pink noted that in the past, the left brain activities that dominate school curriculum supported the types of careers that almost always guaranteed success. But, Mr. Pink noted, the world has changed. We are outsourcing left brain work. Anything that can be
You might be surprised to know that Pink includes the majority of an attorney’s work as “left brain”. He told the audience to google “quick divorce” and note the number of sites that pop up and offer a divorce for a very low cost. He also reminded us about the proliferation of programs that do left brain work. Consider “turbotax“. This software program is doing a great deal of the work that tax preparers used to do. Parents and teachers may still be trying to encourage young people to be accountants and computer programmers-all left brain professions. Pink argues that our students need to also be encouraged to think deeply and for meaning. If we are only preparing and encouraging our children for left brain professions we are doing them a disservice. Our children will be competing against “the world” for this type of work. We need to do more.
So, what can schools do?
Pink encourages schools and teachers to embrace right brain activities. This should not be at the demise of left brain activities. Both are important. However, teachers and schools should encourage critical and creative thinking. The future of our country and their success will depend on their ability to be innovative, entrepreneurial, and even visionary.
Pink noted that educators should do the following when planning learning activities.
- Play and laughter
- Big Picture
Educational technology offers incredible opportunities in helping students work on these types of thinking skills. Think about how having students create a digital video of a historical event could touch on right brain as well as left brain thinking. Please feel free to comment on other ideas that demonstrate how technology encourages right brain as well as left brain thinking.
Read his book for more ideas on educating the “whole mind”.