Monday, March 10, 2008

Think Pink!

I recently finished reading Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. The premise is relatively simple: the "left brain" jobs that people aspired to in the past (lawyer, accountant, software engineer) will fall by the wayside as a new kind of mind (the right brain thinkers) will emerge as a force for the future. The good news is - teachers are considered right brainers!!

More than laying out a different type of plan for future, the book actually contains a very nice "portfolio" piece after each of the six essential R-Directed aptitudes. This book had a high Post-It note quotient, which makes it a really good read. But as I began to digest some of what I was reading, I realized that writers are really right-brained as well and if we develop some of these six aptitudes, well - writers will rule the future!!

Design: Described as a whole minded aptitude, the focus is on an combination of utility and significance. Granted, most elements of design have to do with the aesthetic and the visual. Being useful without words. But with writing, it also has to do with how the work is presented. What type face is used. Cursive or print. The break of lines in a poem. There can be design in writing, to enhance writing, thereby increasing the significance of the words.

Story: This one is obvious - I thought. But what really struck home is the following passage; "When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact." What more powerful reason to create rather than cut-and-paste?

Symphony: The ability to put together all the pieces - to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields - to invent something new by combining elements nobody else thought to pair. Metaphors are a piece of symphony, as is every great novel that kept you reading because of the unexpected.

Empathy: The ability to imagine yourself in someone else's shoes and to intuit what that person is feeling. Good writers are able to capture that in their writing - great writers help others to feel it tool.

Play: There is great research in this section about the power of joy and laughter and play. The connection to writing for me was that writing has not become something of joy and laughter and play. It has become something that we make kids "do." Think of how many times a student has been punished by having to write something multiple times (including test corrections.) How can we add more play into writing?

Meaning: According to Pink, it is the search for meaning that drives us all. What better way to do that than thru writing? I think about all the problems I have solved by getting them out on paper, how journaling has helped me to think through what I am feeling, how creating a story has helped me to see the path that I must take. This is the power of writing.

My apologies to Mr. Pink if this is not how he intended his book to be used but I have not been able to stop thinking about the connections to writing and what we can do to inspire and grow these six aptitudes in our students through writing. Any thoughts??

Cross-posted on Grand Rounds.


Jari Chevalier said...

I found my way to your site and thought I'd say hello. I appreciate the Why Write? question. Writing is a whole-brain activity and writing creatively about one's own experiences is a healing modality, as well as a fine art practice and powerful communication tool. You and your readers might enjoy the Podcast interview I did with Dan Pink, which you can find on my blog site. It's the February 19th blog entry and you can stream or download it. You are welcome to embed it on your own site. Find it here:

Carol said...

All of the things you/Mr. Pink described, specifically as they apply to writing, are the antithesis of the educational writing test. In fact, they are the antithesis of any standardized testing at all!

Sometimes I think that the real problem with education is that those in charge want to see everything accountable to a score or a measurement. Right brain talents can not be so easily measured!

-Carol Weintraub