New Minds

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Almost Home. Oil painting by Donald Zolan 

Take a second to make a mental picture of this:

2029- Huge excitement at home and at school. Great expectations. Graduation year for first graders 2017.

Big challenge ahead.
For them, and for us.

Especially, for us.

For us: the generation in between generations who witnessed the demise of the Industrial era as we were growing, and adapted pretty quickly to an Information Age that has offered endless possibilities, but has also cornered us to some of our humanly boundaries.

However, almost stifled by the new world of data, we were able to perceive it was not going to last too long. Because we are used to changes now. We expect changes. Those big ones, in which you find yourself in the situation of looking back in time and finding hard to see yourself in a before kind of life.

What strikes me more about swings of the pendulum is probably not so much the novelty of new frames, but the ever increasing speed of movements and the responsibility of projecting forward with the right kind of education for what’s to come. At a daily classroom basis or at a major, system-wide scope. Getting ready for an uncertain world is no simple task.

This post is a tribute to one of those prescient books that you get to read once in a while and you get to confirm every word as you turn day by the day the pages of your own experience. More than ten years ago, Daniel Pink released: A Whole New Mind. Why Right-Brainers will rule the future. And we were awed at his creativity and resourcefulness to use left and right hemispheres attributes of the brain to offer “a powerful metaphor for the contours of our times.”

Pink Inventively described our progression from a society and a world economy based on knowledge workers (excelling at analysis, sequential reasoning and verbal capabilities among other characteristics) to a Conceptual Age, a world of “creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers.” Or, in other words, individuals who excel at reasoning holistically, interpreting emotions and nonverbal expressions and recognizing patterns by a sharp ability of synthesis.

The author introduced what he called six senses, that are essential aptitudes to develop in this era. On the one side, Design, Story and Symphony: The unavoidable beautifulness of a common product on the market, the essence of persuasion, communication and self understanding and the ability to see the big picture or cross boundaries are qualities that this moment in history demands.

On the other side, Empathy, Play and Meaning call for the “ability to understand what makes (… a) woman or a man tick and to care for others,” and to be able to laugh and amuse yourself with activities that add to your well being. Last but not least, pursuing “more significant desires: purpose, transcendence, and spiritual fulfillment” is a fundamental basis for an accomplished life.

Even if this excellent work was written some time ago, it still has astounding validity, if it is not to predict, to understand what is going on around us and with ourselves.

I can’t help but wondering how very honestly and promptly we are able to transform these precious reflections into visible actions to contribute to education in the minor and major scale. For our families, as responsible adults and decision makers, and for our students as guiding and facilitating teachers.

And it is we, adults who should be up to the task, pulling gently but firmly in the right direction, not losing sight of who is that at the other end of the line: those kids who are at this moment struggling to doodle their first names at a school desk.

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Connections

At around the same time this book was published, the psychologist and investigator guru, Howard Gardner, the creator of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences released his Five Minds for the future. A more academic, and education oriented work that also describes five types of “minds” or high order abilities, that will be needed “to thrive in the world during the eras to come.” Disciplined, Synthesizing and Creating Minds, deal mainly with cognition whereas Respectful and Ethical deal with our Relations to other humans.

This superb work, together with Pink’s marked a whole new era and a whole new responsibility of action for “mobilizing our own skills” and preparing new generations the best way we possibly can.

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Wish you insightful readings and better connections!

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