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,