Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thinking Outside of the Box


I am an "R-directed" thinker and until reading this book had felt a bit inferior to those more logical, sequential and (I always assumed) more intelligent "L-directed" thinker. How was my playfulness, empathy and spirituality ever going to compete with mathematicians and scientists? And how could anything I do or think be relevant? This book gave great clarity to the importance of being able to see the big picture or the art of reading another persons facial expressions or simply enjoying a good joke. Not that any of these things now make a "right-brainer" superior, but having read "A Whole New Mind" has given me a whole new perspective on the value of each type of thinker. That, perhaps, there is a way humans can win the battle being forged between man and machine - by accepting and enjoying our humanness - and letting the machines do the grunt work while we enjoy deeper and more rewarding relationships.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Key Concept - Play

As I was reading the section on Play in this book, I became more interested in the effects of technology on the brain. Some of the references to J.P. Gee's studies on the topic of gaming and learning made me do some further research. There are numerous resources on this online. It has been interesting reading. My next step is to attend a Brain Institute dealing with the effects of technology on the brain late in January. I am looking forward to learning more!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reflecting on "A Whole New Mind"

I found this book to be interesting, although not a surprise in it's message. The way that our education system has been focusing on the left brain has always concerned me. We have many students who have been taught a process, and can perform very well in the realm of a controlled set of expectations, but when presented with a problem that does not fall into their formula (or "box"), have no idea how to begin to solve it.

The sections on Symphony and Play were my favorite parts of the book, but the left side of my brain did appreciate the information on the outsourcing of jobs, and made me question how we are training students.

I am a right-brainer by nature, and a left-brainer by necessity. My brain had a real workout the past 5 years with half of my job being a music teacher, and the other half a webmaster. I also had to work with a lot of school data for our school improvement committee. Now I am back to just I am on Sabbath!

I have always been fascinated with brain research and how students learn. I appreciated this book and Pink's take on the subject.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Final Post For A Whole New Mind

I am also glad that I chose this book. I tend to be more of a right-brained thinker. It was good to read "A Whole New Mind" and be reaffirmed that this side of the brain is important in our world of study to pass the test to prove you “know” that standard.
I look at how education has changed over the years and feel like we are letting our students down by not enhancing their right brain by using love of the arts. In the 80’s when I first started teaching they offered band to fifth graders, and it was a given that you would be in music and art. Most of the students I taught were in band. Recess and physical education were also an important part of each day. I have watched them whittle down the art and music time, plus wait until 6th grade to start band. Recess and PE have been cut down to have more time to drill to the standards. I don’t think this has helped! I think it has hurt. When I taught kindergarten 20 years ago it was a time to learn about letters, learn how to play, and be creative. My students knew a lot of the letters by being creative in centers. Now it has some centers, but they don’t have the time to explore like we used to do. They are busy” learning” to read and write.
I really liked the part about the labyrinth. There is one in the VA hospital in Minnesota. I never thought about it when I was there, but while reading the book I remembered it. I think it would be neat to have one in the gym or on the playground. It think it would be beneficial for all of us, and especially for those students who like to be up and moving to be able to walk it to help focus..

The parts that talked about taking a Sabbath was a reminder that we all need a break every once in a while. I think we can all relate to that during the Christmas season.
I want to end with the quote “Gratitude works. Feelings of gratitude enhance well-being and deepen one’s sense of meaning.” I like the idea of a gratitude visit. Sometimes I think that our school children are expecting a lot and don’t see gratitude modeled as much as they should. There is another great book out there called “Eight to Great”. It is about 8 keys to success. The author goes around to schools teaching eight keys to becoming successful. One of the keys is gratitude. You are to list three things each day that you are grateful for, and they can’t be repeats. It is amazing how much we have to be thankful for and how that can change your attitude for the day.
Overall, I really liked the book, and have passed it on to my husband to read. It was full of good ideas to improve our life in this crazy fast-paced world.