This book has been like Batman for me. In the movie The Dark Knight the Joker tells Batman, "You've changed things. Forever." I know this seems like a bit of melodrama, but it really isn't when it comes to Daniel Pink's book, "A Whole New Mind." This book is in two parts to we'll examine them seperately.
The first part is very scientifically defined. Daniel has his brain scanned and then discusses the results of the scan and how various partf of the brain work. We then look at some of the results of the United State's history and the ending of our age of Industry. Daniel brings in some psychological research to examine various aspects of our need for meaning.
The second part of the book is the truly awesome part. Daniel breaks down the "new mind" into six categories: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, Meaning. Each of these catagories has its own endeavors, but they are all interconnected. Therein lies the beauty of his book. It clearly demonstrated how if we focus on any one of these traits we will inadvertantly touch all six.
As I said, this book has been a game changer. I've always liked the idea of Story and Play within my classroom. I want to focus more on them. If students are having fun, then they will work hard, and not even realize how hard they are working. We have read in previous books how online gaming is changing how students think and interact. They will stay up all night in order to figure out how to complete a level, putting in hours of work, because it is fun.
As educators we need to harnass the fun of learning, and make our lessons meaningful. This will unlock the other traits Pink disucsses.
In my previous post on the book, I was consistently reminded of a book, "Drumming on the Edge of Magic" while reading Pink. "In the begining, there was noise. Noise begat rythm, and rythm begat everything else. We are descendents of the Big Bang, the original downbeat. We are multi-dimensional rythmis machines, vibrations in the collectice cucles and patterns of the universe. The first sound in the universe was pure noise: the big bang. Its reverberations, still ongoing, are the source of cosmic rythm- a dance of particles and atoms spinning out galaxies, stars, and planetary systems-finding its own groove, gradually bringing out order. That order is harmony, incredibly involved and interdependent, like a heavenly clockwork. We've always looked up to the sky and wondered what lies beyond." This is how Drumming on the Edge of Magic begins. It echos Pink's call for meaning in our lives. While Magic sticks with music as meaning, Pink allows us to explore more avenues for meaning.
Hart, Mickey, Jay Stevens, and Fredric Lieberman. Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990. Print.
The Story of My LIfe
After viewing the TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a few ideas stuck out at me. The first idea was the concept of power and American politics. We are currently within the crazy season of American politics... Presidential Elections. Donald Trump warns us of the Dangerous illegal immigrants who are coming into the United States via Mexico (internal monologue question.. isn't the very large border with Canada something we should look at as well?). Marco Rubio is telling us a narrative about how normalizing relations with Cuba will bring untold calamities to the United States. Who knows WHAT is going on with Hillary Clintons email?
While fun to discuss and create humorous memes to share on twitter and facebook, this political narrative only tells us one small bit of the whole story. I have friends who are in politics and they say that you have to sum up your stance on an issue in 10-20 words or else the average voter loses interest or can't understand it. This is dangerous. How can a voter truly understand what a candidate will do once in office if they don't hear the entire story?
I call this the Disneyland system of politics. Please don't misunderstand me, I love Disneyland. I'm all about Mr. Toads Wild Ride, however, it isn't reality. It's fiction. The entire park is one large meta-narrative story. Employees are called, "cast members" because you are in a story, or production while in the park. You are presented with an idea of what it was like to be within a medieval castle and to roam the forest with dwarfs, or to soar above Victorian London. Were there castles in Medieval Europe that had turrets, and drawbridges? Yes. Does Peter Pan take us on a journey above Victorian London that resebmles what London looked like in the Victorian Era? Yes. Do we take the Disney Narrative as fact? Please don't.
We run into this problem in education. Our contents are so packed full and with limited time in the school year, we give a Disney-esque version of our content. In order to get through the entire scope and sequence of European History, for example, I give my students a rough overview and don't go into much depth. I don't have the time. But with the rise of available technologies, I belive that teachers now have the ability not only to flip their classrooms, but to spin them and give students access to content that will provide the depth we have wanted to give them.
My instagram story is true and acurate, but it isn't the complete picture. It is only a sliver of my week. It can't hope to truly dig deep and discover everything that occured. That would take a consistent stream of consciousness embedded into youtube. I think that as educators we need to keep looking for more of the story that is being told in our content areas, and in our students lives. This is a Hurculean task that will never be complete, our students stories are eternal.
Adichie, C. (2009, October 7). The Danger of a Single Story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | TED Talks. Retrieved August 1, 2015.