The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Why right-brainers will rule the future!


There are right-brainers, left-brainers and even no-brainers. Depending on the issue I suppose I get accused of being all three!

At this week's AASA conference, the most compelling argument I have heard yet for why NCLB is either wrong or insufficient (take your pick) was delivered this weekend by Daniel H. Pink.

I blogged about it here.

Pink explains why the overemphasis on testing, standards and bubble mania may be our undoing. He explains in his book "A Whole New Mind" why reading, writing and math are not sufficient. He explains that the industrial revolution was spawned by the logical and analytical mind (the left hemisphere) but the modern era will belong to the empathetic, creative synthesizer. This person will not only be able to read, write and do math well but will be comfortable operating in the right hemisphere of the brain as well.

He explains how three things have caused this:

1. Abundance: We have most of what we need (created by the left-brain), and we are now in search of beauty and meaning (sought by the right-brain). Note: Have you noticed how the car commercials are not selling function any more? Now they are moving works of art! Have you noticed that many commercials do not even mention the product? They aren't appealing to your left-brain, they are now appealing to your right hemisphere. Why? Many homes in our country are no longer just trying to survive (that's left brain). Now, they are in search of meaning (that's right-brain).

2. Asia: As Thomas Friedman and others point out, even white collar functions like accounting, computer programming and engineering (left-brain skills) are now being out sourced to China and India. America must have creative designers and developers who can take existing products and develop new uses, new styles, new designs and new applications.

3. Automation: In the industrial age we automated the work place to save our backs. Now we automate our work place to free our minds. Now we are interested in meaning, design, integration, empathy, sympathy and beauty.

I'll close with this example. See the picture above? Pink says that your grandparents would have thought you to be insane if you had spent $168.00 on a designer toilet brush. Today, many simple products have reached their engineering limits. Now the questions are different. Can we use them in a new way? Can we make them more aesthetic? Can we integrate them with a new product? Can we differentiate them from a million other toilet brushes?
Let's assume for a moment that Pink is correct.
What do you think this means for schools?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

What does this mean for schools? I think it will take a long time for schools to taste, chew, and swallow this theory. Schools are very conservative institutions where change doesn't come easy and without lots of documentation...and it's hard to document how "appealing" or "pretty" something is...this leaves a lot of room for interpretation since it includes lots of grey area.

Anonymous said...

Yet another example of Dr. Stock appearing to downplay school improvement and the need to focus on standards.

Superintendent Mark Stock said...

I am not trying to downplay standards at all. Pink's point is that they are not sufficient.

Reading , writing and math are as important as ever.

Pink's quote was, "The left-brain skills of the logical and analytical are important but not sufficient and the right-brain skills are first among equals."

So...what school improvement did I downplay?

Ruth said...

I found this post refreshing. It's nice to see a push for balance between standards and creative, innovative thinking.

Tracy Jackson said...

Thanks for tip on Pink's book. Just read an excerpt and fowarded the link to the congressman and staff.

Superintendent Mark Stock said...

Tracy,

Feedback from those who attended indicates they weren't very convinced (due to comments by the staffer) that NCLB is going to see much change. But they were not critical about the meeting or the Congressman's part in the meeting.

Ask the Congressman to read Pink's book carefully and then ask any educator (I'll volunteer :-) if the practical implementation of NCLB has achieved this balance OR has it tipped the scales even further into the left-hemisphere.

Schools have always primarily emphasized what Pink calls the SATocracy, increasingly at the expense of the right hemisphere of the brain. The push to CORE 40 curriculum and more Math and Science has further decreased exposure to other electives that were more geared to right-brain thinking.

Teachers every day say the same thing, "I don't have time to be creative, I have to cover this stuff."

Standards are critical, but what the public doesn't know is that it is physically impossible for a teacher to cover all the standards published for their grade level - much less teach it to student mastery.

Anonymous said...

It is not impossible to cover all the standards -- it is impossible to teach them all with depth, but it is possible to cover them all and identify those which are most essential and most critical for success at the next level.

Cherie Martin, WHS teacher said...

The last poster is correct.

Those of us whose students face Core 40 and other standardized testing, must be certain to at least expose the students to ALL the proficiencies in our course standards. We do try to emphasize the most important ones. The problem, though, is that the American curriculum, at least in mathematics, is "a mile wide and an inch deep" at every grade level. If students were asked to truly master fewer objectives at each grade level, we would not have to reteach and reteach the same topics. We could do more in-depth and, yes, even creative problem solving.

Dr. Stock is right too about the impact of time constraints. We do try to apply some right-brain activities in our left-brain classes, but not nearly as often as we might like or as might help reinforce learning for students.

Anonymous said...

Doc Stock,

I think it's hilarious that you included a pic of a toilet bowl brush in this blog. Was that a right or left-brained decision?
:-)

An Amused Employee

Superintendent Mark Stock said...

It was either left-brained, right-brained or hair-brained. My mind must have been swirling but I was flush out of ideas!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to finally see some validity in right-brained thinking! As a right-brained person who has researched about music and the benefits to the brain and learning, one thing I'd like to see is more music minutes for our students. I have a kindergarten student, and was appalled to learn that he doesn't have music class. In fact, the first and second graders only see the teacher once a week for 45 minutes. When my other student went through the school six years ago, the kindergarteners and first graders had music twice a week with a half-time music teacher. I realize that money is tight, but the benefits of music and art class really opens the minds of these young people, and they benefit all around from these classes. Thanks for listening.

Visual Arts & Music Instructor said...

Hail to recognition of the importance of right brained activities. There are 188 Visual Arts careers that use right-brain skills, and that makes sense, when you think about the fact that everything that is man-made is first conceived, and then is drawn by an artist. This holds true even down to the smallest mechanical part of a machine. Left-brain activities are not any less important, as for many creative projects, accurate math, sequencing, and organizational skills are helpful, if not critical. As a Visual Arts instructor and former music instructor, my thinking is we need 'whole brain' instruction and learning ---using the left-brain skills in the realm of the creative thinking and application. Strengthen both sides of the brain. This will enable our students to be equipped for the highly competitive technical world/workplace that will help them thrive especially when they have had the opprotunity to think, problem-solve and perform creatively.

Anonymous said...

Son of a -!
I've never seen someone address the problem so rightly but for the wrongest reasons!!

AHH!!!

Stop it! Your stupid consumerism's only gonna make the problem of our lifestyles harder to resolve!!

Yes, we do need people who are creative and abstract-thinking; people who don't see rules and boundaries, but instead see what needs to be done and what the best way to do it is.

People that are innovators and oncircumvent limitations creatively to get to a goal.
In other words, people who can see the big picture, people who can use both sides of the brain for a purpose!

But, products!?!

(excuse the bad grammar and the run-on sentences, but it's a BLOG, get over yourself. If you decide to insult your own intelligence by nit-picking at the correct-ness of my comment, that's your problem)

What the fuck are you thinking?!! (excuse my french, but there's no other way of saying it)

No!

Seriously?! Is that all you can fathom for the futures of us the newer generations?!

Well how uncreative and narrow-minded of you!

We don't need more marketing! Not even more effective marketing! What for? So people will be deluded into thinking that more than maybe .0001% of companies out there care for the consumer beyond the extent of getting them to buy their product? No!

We need leaders and people who will come up with solutions at all levels of everyday life, who will come up with creative new solutions to the big issues we now face; namely, sources for energy, environmentally friendly appliances, alternatives to current inefficiencies, our waste problem which is derived straight from the fact that we package everything with crap we're only gonna throw away, etc.

We need people who will address the problem at the political level, who will change the way we do things at all levels, who will come up with solutions to people's stubborn lifestyles.

Not figuring out how to get someone to buy a f***ing $170 toilet brush!!

Get real, a**hole!

Sincerely,
A Pissed Off College Student

P.S. If your rebuttal to this is that it was only an example, and you do in fact want for these solutions to happen, then I have to say this: Really?! the toilet brush was the best example you could come up with?!
Well how uncreative and narrow-minded of you!
Whether you are or not, people are getting the impression that you are just as narrow-minded as any other consumerist idiot!