Monday, January 17, 2011


I had heard of Pink’s work for many years. I have seen snippets of concepts throughout my own learning and experiences in recent years. I have heard many speak of his ideas, and heard many recommendations that I should take the time to read his work. I rarely get to read what interests me. Seems I always have my nose in something I need to read, rather than what I want to read. I do wish I had taken the opportunity to read this book long before now!

It has modified and clarified my opinion of where the future of technology lies. It has given me an opportunity to counsel my students that are interested in a career in technology to look to the jobs that involve the creative process – being “the idea” guy or gal. Students need to look to different ways to fill a niche. Look at the success that Mark Zuckerberg has had with his idea of making the Internet a more socially friendly place. Invented this little thing called Facebook… which has now surpassed Google in its number of users. It has prompted me to focus even more in my classes on the creative, project-oriented learning activities.

I am greatly encouraged to follow the belief that our future lies with human creativity and entrepreneurship. Waaaayyy more fun than the assembly line, the mindless, and mundane.

But… let’s be careful not to ignore the organized, the sequential, and the task-oriented. We’ll be floundering in the ideas with no help in getting them organized, built, launched, and maintained. A happy mixture of both, please!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Closing Book Review

Book Summary: A Whole New Mind by Peggy Roberts Titze

This book was my saving grace this school year. If it were November 1, 2013 (my rule of 85 date)this year, I would have walked away from teaching. I never anticipated this feeling. I am struggling with the added paperwork that takes my valuable time away from my actual teaching. This book validated my intuitive art of teaching. It gave me the strength to focus on the joy of my art, rather than politics of my job. It validated my whole child or symphonic philosophy. It gave me hope that “this too shall pass”, and that the child may actually become the focus of education. I believe in Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence integration, developmentally appropriate practice, gifted education modalities, differentiated curriculum, student empowerment, and facilitation of learning. To me, teaching is an intuitive art first. The science of teaching is secondary. I belong in Daniel Pink’s “Conceptual Age”. He labels six essential aptitudes for success in this Conceptual Age: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. He advocates for the development of these R-directed thinking aptitudes, integrated with the L-directed, sequential, logical, and analytical, attributes. A Whole New Mind is blending the strengths of both hemispheres for success in this new Conceptual Age. I believe he is right. His success examples support his theory. I feel his ideals have and will continue to transfer into public education practices. My symphonic teaching style will fit well with this philosophy. This is what is giving me hope!
America’s future livelihood depends on three questions: 1) Can someone overseas do it cheaper? 2) Can a computer do it better, faster, or cheaper? 3) Is what I’m offering in demand in an age of abundance? Pink feels the successful answers to these questions revolve around design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. I have a lot to offer in this realm of thinking. The experience of choosing this book has given me the strength and courage to follow my intuition.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflection of A Whole New Mind

Reflection of “A Whole New Mind” authored by Daniel Pink
By Deb Schnell

I found this book to be an easy, fun read. It is full of eye opening truths and ideas about the present and future. It starts out a little scary when Pink talks about outsourcing many of our jobs overseas, but then he talks about what we can do to make ourselves more employable and what skills are becoming more important.
When Pink speaks about the past and how the right brain was thought of as being unimportant, it is very surprising to see what value the right brain actually is now and will be in the future. There is a definite shift in thinking that the left brain is more important than the right brain. Things we use to think of as “artsy” but not very important, are now coming to the forefront as being necessary skills for employment in the future.
The importance placed on “design” was something of an eye opener. The fact is that everything from a pencil to a skyscraper is based on someone’s design. This is something that will make a person employable in the present and future that we rarely even considered in the past. When I think I don’t have enough time to do art in the classroom, I might think twice about the importance of allowing my students to show their creativity.
Story is such a must when it comes to people remembering what was said in a speech, classroom, or a friend’s rendition of something that happened to them. It is a reminder to me that I need to use it much more frequently in my classroom with my first graders. They love stories, and that is one way to help them remember important ideas rather than expect them to memorize facts.
When it comes to symphony, the ability to put together the pieces, it makes me think of the students in my classroom. I have those students who know their math facts, are top notch readers, follow the rules, get ready on time, and keep their desks neat. Then there are my students who can’t sit down in their desks to work, bring in treasures (rocks) from the playground when they are to be left on the ground, write their b’s and d’s backwards, and lose most of their crayons. They are diversely different yet, as a whole, they make the classroom a working unit. Many of those unorganized students have more creativity than others yet the “better” students keep things going. They remind me of the left brain working in “symphony” with the right brain. We need both to create a whole.
Empathy is the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s position and to feel what that person is feeling. The good news as far as computers replacing people in many jobs is that computers cannot feel empathy. Empathy is something that is being taught to people in different fields of work. It is a major factor in relationships and in my classroom when students have a conflict; we try to have students understand what others are feeling when they say or do hurtful things to others.
I enjoyed the part of the book on play. As often as students are playing video games at home, it’s nice to know there are positive effects of gaming. Humor and joyfulness are things that come naturally in children and seem to diminish in many people as they get older. The laughter club really caught my attention. Laughing can have positive physical and mental benefits. Many times in the classroom, the student who is laughing gets in trouble, mainly because it is at an inappropriate time. I have decided I’d like to have one laughing time a day in my classroom where students can feel free to laugh about something. Now, it seems, more than ever, we are seeing children from single parent homes where children are not getting all of their needs met and the stress that can cause in children just doesn’t seem fair. When they are in school, they should feel safe and if we can allow them one time a day to laugh to help reduce the stresses of life, maybe we can help those children become a little happier.
The final chapter of the book was probably the most important of all and that was on “meaning”. The author made some good points about what truly makes a person happy and it’s not necessarily what we’d think. Money and things are not what make people truly happy. One of the most important things a person can possess to make them happy is spirituality. Children talk openly in my classroom about God without me even having to bring it up. It is something that most people believe in.
When we read a story or fable in the classroom, we often discuss the lesson or the meaning of the story. We’re always looking for the answers. They sometimes surprise us because they’re not what we’re expecting. Just as in life, we’re always looking for the answers and we might be surprised by what they are. We just need to remember that the meaning of life or happiness is not found at our destination or in the final answer, but it’s through the journey itself that we learn our most valuable lessons or meaning.
Daniel Pink’s message through writing this book is about how diverse the mind is from the right side to the left, just as the world is made up of diverse people and cultures around the world. We can no longer rely on left brained people. The idea of our brains is that in order to function in the world, we need both sides of the brain to work together rather than relying on just one side. We need both left brain and right brain people. The ideas in this book help us to make better use of the right hemisphere of our brains.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Conni's reflection post

I was not familiar with any of the books when we were asked to chose one. I tried to go with recommendations and reading the excerpts and previews hoping to get a book that I would find valuable. So often this fall, I found myself talking about this book and the findings in the book that supported things we were doing in school. The key ideas of empathy, play and story have surfaced many times in my room this year. In Kindergarten our new 2nd Step Bullying program spends the first unit teaching about understanding and recognizing emotions and having students study photos. The next section in the program is on empathy. I also have tried to use thoughts from this book as I weigh my conflicting thoughts on the increasing standards and academic push in kindergarten. I have seen students are definitely capable of achieving the expectations we set for them, and I am proud of all the successful readers and writers that leave my classroom. We need to not forget the social aspects either though. I have attended conferences on using play in the classroom, and think maybe I need to revisit some of my notes and books to think about incorporate more play and movement and social skill development, encourage a few more right brain activities.
Ever since attending the conference for our ESA by Kathie Nunley, I have received her newsletter. This fall just as we began reading this book, one of her hot topics featured research on one of the key ideas from the book. The following is the hot topic :
“ The right amygdala (RA) is responsible for recognizing
interpersonal emotions. It begins functioning around 6 months gestation.
Prenatal drug use or severe depression in the third trimester, or early
neglect can hijack the RA. A child with such a tainted RA cannot self-regulate.
They are in perpetual stress, the RA is running free and the child cannot
participate in the bonding event. They have difficulty reading others. This
creates the “attachment disorders”. Steven Gray, PhD, University
of the Rockies. “Amygdala and Attachment: Existential Implications.”
Presented August 13, 2010. APA Annual Convention, San Diego, CA.