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.