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