Monday, December 27, 2010

Reflection Post-A Whole New Mind

I have loved reading the book, The Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink because the ideas in the book justify my own thinking. In my early years as a person I decided that the best a person could do in life was be happy. It didn't really matter what a person was doing as long as they were happy. Also, the difference between joyfulness and humor is interesting. It seems that there is concern by those who supervise that if an employee is too happy that maybe they are not doing their job. I have just noticed this over the years. A person can have fun at work, but it has to be done clandestinely. It also seems that a person who is too jovial may not be seen as professional. There seems to be a fine line because a person can be seen as too serious also. Page 220-"I believe the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we are all seeking something better in life. So I think the very motion of our life is towards happiness." -The Dalai Lama It seems, also that a person can be happy, but doesn't have to be smiling all the time. There can be an inner joyfulness.
Then there is also the meaning of life...the part in the book that discusses the meaning of life and that people who do not suffer possibly can spend more time thinking of the meaning of their life. It sometimes seems a quiet struggle within people that no one discusses. It's almost taboo. When have you been in a group and the topic of discussion was- what is the meaning of your life? So it would appear that the meaning of life and happiness are tied together. Without meaning-no happiness-no happiness-no meaning?
It seems that maybe in this time in history people are being accepted more for who they are than in the past. This seems to be a step in the right direction. Maybe people can just be and still be appreciated.
After reading about the research on video gaming it seems that maybe that might be an avenue to engage children more than I had thought in the past. I have, what I think is, a great idea for teaching children to read and to increase fluency that I would love to develop and discuss with someone. It might already be out there...but who knows!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reflection Post

After researching the books, checking reviews and recommendations and finally choosing randomly from the books I had narrowed it down to I began “A Whole New Mind.” I’m glad this is the book I ended up reading, as I thought it to be thought provoking and useful to my teaching.

One key concept I enjoyed reading about was the essential ability of Play. I used some of these thoughts as a comment to the summarization of that chapter, but after finishing the book this element is the one of the key elements that stuck out in my mind as useful to incorporate in my teaching.

There is so much truth to the importance of play that I think we often tend to overlook in our “work day.” Learning doesn’t have to be ‘work!’ I remember going to a presentation at a leadership conference in college about integrating play/fun/laughter into the work place and about how much more successful the people who do this are. In trying to accomplish all that needs to be done in a school day, play often gets reserved for special occasions rather than as a way to teach.

Pink used a quote from Katarina about happiness being conditional, joyfulness unconditional. One of the most popular teachers in our district (by students, parents, other staff, community...) is a joyful person. He is not always happy, but his outlook on life is positive and he is fun! We had an inservice before school this year where we all had to create igoogle pages. One of his links is a joke of the day. He starts his class with a laugh and the students seem to have a special connection with him and are generally successful in his classes. Students respect this teacher, but are also comfortable with him. I think this supports the South Western mission statement also quoted in chapter eight, "People rarely succeed at anything unless they are having fun doing it."

I hope I will use this essential element of play as I strive to teach my students the requirements of our district. When doing my lesson plans I need to remember that adding the element of play and humor can not only help teach students but also create an environment conducive to learning in general.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Key Concept Reflection

Key Concept Reflection

I have actually owned ‘A Whole New Mind’ for a year or so and had not taken the time to read it. So I was happy to have external motivation. The concept of ‘Asia, Abundance and Automation’ that Pink discusses is not new to me. I would also say neither were the suggested future role of empathy, meaning, play or symphony. I found Pink’s dialog on ‘design’ most interesting.

I have never felt I was an artist. If I had been in the room when the question was asked about who were the artists, I never would have raised my hand. I have come to realize I do possess creativity but would still not define myself as an artist.

“The wealth of nations and the well-being of individuals now depend on having artists in the room…..everyone, regardless of profession must cultivate an artistic sensibility. We may not all be Dali or Degas. But today we must all be designers.” Pink stated.

When I look around the room as suggested by Pink, I do see that everything is affected by design. It is ‘a combination of utility and significance’ as stated in Heskett’s terms. This passage and the toilet brush story spurred a line of thought about things I use and like because of great design and things I have discarded because of poor design. Back in the day when my children were infants, I applauded the person – now artist – who came up with the concept of Onesie tshirts.

In many respects, design is simply finding the answer to a problem. It is making something more useful. Pink would propose that the ‘democratization’ of design has made designer objects more available to the masses. I would agree but would also question the motivation. At its heart is also a marketing plan to appeal to more of us and create an idea in our head that we want or better yet ‘need’ it.

The ‘New Mind’ author’s point I believe, is that it has become the thing that makes a difference for consumers. The increased wealth of those who have embraced this concept is supportive evidence.

I believe there is design and art for the sake of design and art; simply because it is beautiful to look at and inspires us. Embracing the idea that something utilitarian can also be aesthetically pleasing isn’t a bad thing. It might confuse us over our ‘needs and wants’ because the toaster really just has to make toast. Is this democratization of design targeted towards American because we enjoy a life so beyond the basics of many other world citizens?

Design in combination with function does have a consuming role. Pink’s recounting of the quandary in the 2000 Presidential election gave me an ‘ahhah’ moment. No matter how pretty it is for us masses, it still has to work.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Teresa's Voki

Thursday, December 2, 2010


This part of the six senses gets hands-on or rather gets the laugh on. Madan Kataria introduced the idea of laughing just to laugh, and through laughter he wanted to change the world. One of our more famous sayings is that laughter is the best medicine and that it can do anything from limiting wrinkles to reducing stress causing illnesses.

Dr. Kataria came up with the laughing clubs. The purpose of these clubs is to be able to be playful and to activate the right side of the brain because the left is limited to logic and there is a growing need to tone down the seriousness in places such as business or school and to replace it with play. The example given was about a man being fired at the Ford Rouge River plant for smiling. Ford thought that people needed to be serious at work in order to be productive otherwise problems would arise.

However, in the Conceptual Age the combination of work and play seem to enhance productivity and creativeness. For eaxample, South Western Airlines mission statement is "People rarely succeed at anything unless they are having fun doing it".

Play is coming forward from the background into the sunlight and showing itself off in 3 ways: games, humor, and joyfulness. Starting with games, Pink talks about how video games are definitely part of the future of learning. Role playing video games will be able to show students/people how to think critically, problem solve, and work on creating new and innovative ideas to accomplish their goals, all within the supportive atmosphere of the game. The only word of caution about this was a possible link between the games and agression. On the other hand, games can help reduce stress and where is one of the most stressful places...the workplace. Play can "strengthen and ennoble the work ethic". Games are also teaching new whole-minded lessons to a new generations.

Humor is next in the area of laughter. This is the brain reconciling a situation (joke) in which the right brain is used to make an incongruant story make sense. Drs. Shammi and Stuss conducted and experiment where they had 2 groups, one a control group with intact brains; the second had damage to their right hemispheres. The groups were given a "pick-the-punch line joke to complete and the data demonstrated that where the control group picked the correct
punch line; those with damage to the right side of the brain picked one of the other answers. The humor concept, with its ability to reconcile incongruences, was lost on the second group. Shammi and Stuss also held the belief that humor represents one of the highest forms of human intelligence which makes sense if you are looking at the whole picture. Even as a child grows and developes we can see how their mind develops and grows from learning to speak to learning to solve puzzles and jokes.

Humor can go either way, it can either be a volatile force that is cruel and destruct ue or it can be a cohesive force unifying and creaeting a bond between coworkers.

Lastly, we come to joyfulness and the phrase that stands out the most for this portion is a quote from Kataria: "Happiness is conditional; joyfulness is unconditional." At the beginning of this blog, I started out describing Kataria and his laughing clubs. The idea behind the laughing clubs is to be able to laugh and take joy in nothing or rather, we shouldn't need to depend on anything to make us laugh; if we do then we don't own the joy. In the laugh clubs, they do a series of laughing exercises, it does not require humor. Pink also talks about how children can laugh for no reason and lets us know how the laughing clubs can teach us to do just that.

In the last section, Pink discusses ways that we can try to make our workplaces a little more playful such as the cartoon captions game.

When we incorporate play into something that we are doing it makes us happier and more likely to do a better job and to continue doing a better job on whatever we are working on. Play and laughter have also been said to lengthen one's life span. Should we see if it works? Ha, Ha,



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Summary - A Whole New Mind; part 4

In this section of ‘A Whole New Mind’, Pink identifies some resources and techniques to hone ‘Symphony’ as well as resources for ‘Empathy’ – the main topic of this section. These range from listening to the great symphonies, drawing, measuring your empathy quotient, eaves dropping, volunteering and looking for negative spaces.

Empathy however is the major focus of this section. According to Pink, empathy is defined “the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s position and to intuit what that persons is feeling….. Empathy isn’t sympathy—that is, feeling bad for someone else. It is feeling with someone else, sensing what it would be like to be that person.”

Empathy, often overlooked in the Information Age, helped the human species evolve.
It is based in emotions and emotions are non-verbal. Charles Darwin suggested that facial expressions demonstrate our emotions. Not until 1965 did Paul Ekman conduct research and verify that Darwin was correct; facial expressions are universal.

Understanding facial expressions fits in the domain of our right hemisphere. Pink supports this conclusion by citing multiple examples of the role of the right versus left hemisphere in facial recognition and detecting lying. Aphasics, people with damage to the left brain that inhibits speaking and understanding language; excel in lie detection.

Pink suggests that in the Conceptual Age, work that can be reduced to rules, can be done well by computers or computers run by lower paid overseas workers. The jobs we keep will require understanding the human; emotions and interaction. The practice of law is used as example in that computers, software and English speaking from other countries can deliver on the ‘specialized information’ part of law. Lawyers who understand emotions, facial expressions and divine the needs of their clients will be the face of the practice.

We can boost our powers of empathy and our ability to read faces according to Pink. Understanding how facial muscle work and the ability to interpret the movement of those muscles can help. In a true, genuine smile, some muscle movement is spontaneous; we cannot control it. Deciphering the signals of these muscles can help discern emotions.

Medical care is being impacted by empathy, symphony and story telling. A physician’s ability to understand nonverbal cues like facial expression and body language as well as vocal intonation is increasing their effectiveness. According to Pink, the role of empathy in the process of healing is a reason nurses will be in high demand. They typically exhibit more empathy than other medical counterparts.

Pink also raises the question of ‘gender gap’ in the ability to empathize. The female brain is more predisposed to empathy but our brains do not always coincide with gender. The Conceptual Age, according to Pink requires “androgynous minds”.

This exert defines this section for me….”Empathy is much more than a vocational skill necessary for surviving twenty-first-century labor markets. It’s an ethic for living……Empathy makes us human. Empathy brings joy. Empathy is an essential part of living a life of meaning.” (Pink, Daniel; A Whole New Mind, page 165)

Friday, November 12, 2010

pages 100-157

November 11, 2010 jhemen
Section 3 pages 100-157

Chapter 5
The world is integrating the Left brain way of thinking and way of doing business and infusing Right brain thinking to conduct business. The thought now is that the types of jobs that have been in the forefront of society can now be completed y people in other countries at lower wages. Now the ‘gig’ paying jobs will be done by people who can see the big picture and do things like inventing, designing, and seeing things in a new ‘light’. To work in these new ways people who are more Right brained will probably get these positions. New workers need to be able to use these aspects in their jobs: storytelling and symphony.

People remember and connect to a story rather than facts. I just spent 180 minutes and about 9 miles on the treadmill listening to and reading the book The Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink. Now I have to write a synopsis of the pages and I’m blank. What I had thought about while walking, listening, and reading, was how would teaching second graders be more effective if I could tell them stories about the major standards that I have to teach. Then I thought what if they told the stories too or made plays or videos. I thought they would probably remember way more about what I taught if they could somehow connect stories. Then I wondered if their connections to learning are way more important than I realize (and I do realize they are important). I wondered if maybe I should do an experiment. I would teach them something, then let them relate whatever they wanted about the subject either verbally or in writing and get back with them later to see what they remembered. I would teach another lesson and not let them make connections and see if the learning was less, the same, or more. Or, would I need to come up with the stories?
Pink in convinced that storytelling is the wave of the future. Without storytelling skills a person would be less likely to be hired in the corporate world. This idea and shift is somewhat fascinating considering the high powered corporate world I remember.
Chapter 6
Symphony ‘is the ability to put together the pieces, to see relationships between unrelated fields. (p.130) The ability to understand metaphors is also a part of symphony thinking. I found out in the 1990’s that not everyone ‘gets’ metaphors. I told some smart, educated people that I had gone to a horse doctor and was asked why I went to a veterinarian. Not everyone ‘gets’ metaphors, sometimes even after you explain the relationship.
Since Symphony is all about the relationship between things, D.H.Pink said that there are three types of people who may be sought after in the ‘new world’ or Right Brainers. These people are the Boundary Crossers, The Inventor, and the Metaphor Maker. The Boundary Crosser can multitask; The Inventor, as you may suspect, comes up with new ideas; and the Metaphor Maker helps to understand and give meaning. The worker of the future will be one who can see the big picture and be able to think ‘outside the box’.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Section 2 Summary

Pp. 68-99

This section of the book focuses on the attribute of Design.
Pink sites the idea of design as a combination of utility (L directed) and significance (R directed).
The example of CHAD (Charter High School for Architecture and Design – a tuition free Philadelphia public school) focused on how design is typically ignored in public education - and highlighted how a focus on design, in the case of CHAD and other such schools, is used (succesfully) as an alternative to the more traditional “left-brain” oriented public education system. The argument is that this design-centered approach encourages students to think holistically – cultivating the abilities to solve problems, understand others, and appreciate the world around them. The results are difficult to ignore - significantly higher attendance and graduation rates.
According to Pink, design, which in the past has often been reserved for the elite, has in recent years become democratized. Pink gives examples of famous designers’ products being available to the mass market at stores such as Target. He also points to the auto industry as an example of how design has become a selling point.
“The quickened metabolism of commerce,” Pink explains, has created new markets and innovations – giving consumers products they didn’t know they were missing. As an example, he describes, how over a relatively short time, cell phones have gone from being utilitarian (logical) to highly design focused (emotional) devices.
Pink describes the potential far reaching benefits of good design, such as in hospitals where natural light is prevalent. He also describes how poor design can have major consequences; he sites the controversial 2000 Presidential election in Florida (butterfly ballots = voter confusion = inaccurate election results).
In the Portfolio for Design, there are resources and ideas for readers to hone their sense of design.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Creativity of the RB

This is actually a picture of some type of plant life. There are thousands of small fingers emitting from the main branches. This reminds me of the human brain and how creativity must look if it could be mapped. There is organization amongst the fingers and yet they are reaching in all directions, searching for meaning, connections, brainstorming in a world of possibilities.

WNM Book Cover

working on being a whole new mind

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Super Summarization Section 1

The overuse of the term “right-brained” was mentioned in chapter one. I’m sure everyone has heard things being termed “right-brained” or “left-brained.” I liked the quote of McManus that Pink repeated on pg. 25 saying that “…they are actually two half-brains, designed to work together….” (thus: A Whole New Mind) One of Pink’s quotes explaining the differences of the right and left brain that really stuck out in my mind was from page 19: “Think of the sequential/stimulation difference like this: the right hemisphere is the picture; the left hemisphere is the thousand words.” I also like the way the author changed the term of using different sides of our brain to “L-Directed” or “R-Directed” instead of “right or left brained” since both are needed to function but the direction of each is unique.

The focus of chapter 2 was that the traditional L-directed occupations are beginning to decline in importance because of “Abundance” (there is so much of the same thing that aesthetic appeal is playing a bigger part in sales,) “Asia” (overseas workers provide cheaper labor for the same job,) and “Automation” (computers are able to provide much quicker “Left-brained” tasks than people can.)

A subject mentioned in chapter 2 and continued in chapter 3 was the tests that “require logic and analysis—and reward test takers for zeroing-in, computer-like, on a single correct answer” that are used to gain “knowledge” professions. Wouldn’t it be nice if a tool used to measure more “R-directed” thinking was used? Think of the aptitude test required to become a teacher. After 4-5 years of college, hopefully all of us are able to use teacher manuals, text books, trade books, reference books, and now the internet to help with content. (Which is different depending on grade level and even school district!) How do these “L-Directed” aptitude tests tell if someone will be a teacher with whom students will connect? Is there a way to measure the “R-Directed” skills such as empathy? Creativeness? Communication with parents? Students? Colleagues? Administration or board? Ability to manage a classroom?! All of these seem far more important than whether we know the reason for villa in the small intestine! (This was actually a question on the Praxis when I took it a couple of years ago….my cousin, a doctor, said, “Really? You need to know that to teach kindergarten? Why?”) I think it reiterates the fact mentioned in Chapter 3 that IQ accounts for between only 4 and 10 percent of career success! The new test that Yale professor Robert Sternberg is developing to measure more right hemisphere thinking sounds interesting. According to Pink it has been twice as successful as the SAT in predicting how well students will perform in college. How long do you think it will take a test of this nature to be considered valid or useful? At what levels?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Susan's Book Cover

The orange background caught my attention on this picture--bright and "New!" With the brain standing out on the black head I thought it appropriately represented "A Whole New Mind!"

Book cover

I chose these uniquely carved crayons because all students are unique and I think looking at a new way to carve the crayon or use the crayon box is an ongoing challenge in working in education. Lookings at things creatively or from a different perspective will help meet the challenges of students and also challenge them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome to Literature Circle Twenty-two!

Your Super Summarizer schedule is as follows:

Section One--Due October 28, Susan Ostenson
Section Two--Due November 4, Jack Batchelder
Section Three--Due November 11, Janice Hemen
Section Four--Due November 18, Carol Birgen
Section Five--Due December 2, Teresa Bartlett
Section Six--Due December 9, Mariella Paul