A Whole New… Mind-Set
Thoughts on Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind
Published: June 29, 2010
by Laura Joy Perales
It’s no news to me that I’m a right-brained thinker, but growing up, it was impressed upon me that I needed to become a left-brained thinker in order to be successful in life. In other words, creativity is a great outlet, but it’s not going to get you anywhere in the real world. My father told me I could go to NYU and study theater, but he wouldn’t be fitting the bill. When Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (2006), clarified that our brains are divided into two halves, but the right is not inferior, just different (p. 14). There was a lot of information to take in while studying the first three chapters of Pink’s novel. I made some new discoveries, considered some prior beliefs, learned about the negative outcomes of a global economy, and was reassured that I am on the right track in how to foster habits of mind that will make students successful in the new millennial working world.
A lover of research, I passionately analyze texts and crave structure and organization in writing. Those are really left hemisphere jobs. In the same field of work, synthesizing information across multiple texts and drawing meaning by putting the pieces together to form a more complete picture, the right hemisphere is at work. As Pink (2006) puts it, "The two sides work in concert -- two sections of an orchestra that sounds awful, if one side packs up its instruments and goes home" (p. 25). Another favorite quote that resonated with me is: "The two hemispheres of our brains don't operate as the on-off switch is -- one powering down as soon as the other starts lighting up. Both habits play a role in nearly everything we do" (p. 17). I found this an encouragement for my learning and teaching practices.
Just beginning my Globalization and Advocacy course at Wilkes, I am being exposed to the globalization of society for the first time, facing political and economic issues that I was largely unaware of. Therefore, supplemental texts such as Suárez-Orozco & Qin-Hillard’s 2004 publication Globalization: Culture and Education in the New Millennium and Thomas Friedman’s 2005 article “It’s a Flat World, After All” have given me some insight into the changing nature of the workforce. Abundance seems to have lessened the significance of left-directed thinking because it stimulates an emphasis on creativity. Because there are workers over sees willing to do left-directed thinking jobs for less, right-directed thinking takes the stage. I love the way Pink mentions how John Henry's failure of human effort became a parable of the industrial age: that machines can outdo human (2006, p. 41). As a direct result, automation has less need for professionals that are left-directed (Pink, 2006, p. 46). This is scary. Middle class workers who lose jobs because of economic change find difficulty when seeking new employment. A solution is to be re-trained with new skills. Will people find that motivation? If they do, then this is refreshing! As educators, we’re responsible for equipping students with the mindsets necessary for success, and we can influence them by developing their creativity and innovation. We are becoming a much more service-based nation, so ingenuity is a trait students will need to compete.
That’s where the third chapter comes into play where Pink explores how in the 21st century we've moved to a conceptual age where creators and empathizers will be of more value in the working world (2006, p. 49). Consider the accompanying image. Obviously, through the transitions in eras, “creators and empathizers” are the ones who are going to find their niche a conceptual society. I whole-heartedly agree. That’s what Project-Based Learning is all about—embedding concepts into a real-life, purposeful experience which will generate the very same skills that Pink keeps reiterating. I’m curious to see how his “six senses” will prepare us for the Conceptual Age.
Ultimately, I’ve learned that to “rule the world” requires a balance of both the right and left brain. I see the immediate need to change the way that I teach so that students can successfully compete globally for jobs. I’ve come to understand myself better, rethinking the way that I think, and breaking some of the unspoken contracts I made with my father as a girl, accepting that the right side of my brain can be celebrated! I’ve seen this to be true with the development of my own business with web-design, video production, and training services for educators and students that grew out of my classroom experiences as a teacher. No one taught me those skill sets. I had to learn them on my own. I don’t want the same for my kids. If I honor my commitment to education, then I am going to teach English in a way that will truly equip them for the rapidly changing world around them. I agree with Pink's ideas and can use them to positively influence the content and ways that I teach.
Here are some fun tests and interesting videos to supplement an exploration of A Whole New Mind.
Right Brain vs. Left Brain Creativity Test at The Art Institute of Vancouver:
Are You a Right-Brain or Left-Brain Thinker at Lifescript:
Motivational Speaker Presentation (2 and half minutes) of Daniel Pink: Right Brain/Left Brain:
Discovery Education Video Daniel Pink: Education and the Changing World of Work:
Abundance [image]. (2010). Retrieved June 28, 2010, from:
Conceptual Age [image]. (2007). Retrieved June 28, 2010, from: http://www.slideshare.net/orangy/a
Left-Brain Right-Brain [image]. (2009). Retrieved June 28, 2010, from:
Pink, D. (2006). A whole new mind: why right-brained thinkers will rule the world. Penguin Group. New
York, New York. 1-61
Author: Laura Joy Perales
Published: June 29, 2010 in Perception
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