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.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Animoto - A Whole New Mind

Create your own video slideshow at

Final Post - A Whole New Mind

I am so glad that I chose this book and that I was a part of this group, as the insights on our blog have been truly wonderful. Overall, what "A Whole New Mind" did for me is it gave me permission in a way to use the side of me that comes most natural to me - the feeling side. Not everything in our classrooms and in education needs to be so directly tied to science and standards. Some of what we need to be helping our students do is developing their right-brain, creative, feeling side to their personalities. We can do that daily through our interactions, conflicts and resolutions, conversations, etc. The more we can be an example for our students or point out things to them in their days that will help them in life, the more well-rounded they will become.

The section of the book on "Meaning" was particularly of interest to me. I appreciated the quote by Dr. Lauren Artress that says, "We are not human beings on a spiritual path, but spiritual beings on a human path." This right-brained side of us is where that spiritual side is most deeply felt. We need to do our best to help those in our care to know this side of them.

Can We Play?

KC - I love this paragraph from your Super Summary: "The effective use and recognition of humor is one of the highest and most evolved human cognitive functions and indicates high emotional intelligence. The skillful use of humor can reduce hostilities, deflect criticism, relieve tension, improve moral, and help with communication. Research shows that laughter can decrease stress hormones and boost the immune system. People who laugh are more creative and productive, and work well with others."

We live in a world full of humor if we take a moment to notice it. And humor naturally leads us to "play." I appreciated the quote from this chapter from Brian Sutton-Smith who says, "The opposite of play isn't work. It's depression." That is what many of our classrooms are full of - not work, depression. If we can get our students to feel a sense of "play" in our classrooms learning will increase.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Final Reflection

I found myself engulfed in the part about empathy. Sometimes I wonder if I am actually too blunt or maybe should be more open to social cues I see or practice. In the section on empathy, I went to one of the websites and actually took the 60 question survey and got my results. I am happy to say I scored in the above average range for showing empathy. I found many of the things interesting, including the book about studying facial expressions. I think I am pretty good at reading facial expressions but some people are just plain hard to read about what they are thinking. Other people it is written all over their faces how they are feeling. This section was most interesting to me because of the career I am in. I believe as teachers we need to make sure we are empathetic with the parents we come in contact with because they have the best interests of their children in mind and want to be supportive. I need to work on being more empathetic in certain situations because sometimes I just like to tell it like it is before thinking it through. Great book!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Part Six Comments

I think it is safe to say that we must work for happiness and meaning. We must not take for granted that both will come easily without work. Everyone's vision of what these two ideas mean are different. Therefore, what we make of them is our choice and what we choose to do to find meaning in all things or find happiness in what we feel or want.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Comments of the section on Meaning

I agreed fully with Daniel Pink about people seaching for meaning. I do think that happiness should be taken seriously, but that happiness is really an outward thing that is dependent upon the circumstances. Joy comes from within, and I think maybe it would be better to strive for joy. I think if we depend just on searching for happiness, we will be disappointed. We can't always avoid negative events or emotions, but we can use them to become better people.. Our troubles can sometimes lead us to our passion or purpose. I became a teacher because of the way a teacher made a difference in my brother's life. He struggled with a learning disability and she made a difference.
I did think that this section was good, and it reminded me that attitude is everything!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reflection of A Whole New Mind

I found this book to be interesting to read a second time. I remembered many of the parts he discussed of how we all think with different sides/parts of our brains. It was interesting to read what side of the brain controls our parts of the body and also how he explained the six senses of aptitudes and connected them with our thinking processes. Each chapter he wrote I found statements I needed to process more thoroughly of how they fit into my life and some things I need to work on to be more of a right brain thinker. The chapter on designs made me value the designers out there with their creativity to 'see the picture' before its built. Next the chapter on stories and how we are all the authors of our own lives and how those stories impact our lives. The chapter about symphony and how we all try to work together and learn from each other, which can be a challenge at times. The empathy that each of has definitely depends on the individual. Play, I need to have more of that in my life. I feel that is an important part at work or home that needs to be happening more these days. Finally, the chapter on meaning and how people have enough to live, but nothing to live for. We need to find some spirituality in our lives in which to be more satisfied.

I found myself listening more to people and their ideas and figuring out if they were left or right brained. I also reflected on how learning to think more right brained will take time and that we are all developed in our own ways. Many of our thought processes are also developed by events that have happened to us that make us think or react to situations in ways that are different than our colleagues or friends. Those that master the six senses will have a huge advantage over others.

Some comments that I found that I wrote down were:
Take the BUT our of excuses!
Take time for the Sabbath...even a few minutes.
Take a walk through a labyrinth for moving and meditation ( I need to do that, I have one a few blocks from my house).

The moral of the story is that change is inevitable when it happens the wisest response is not to wail or whine but to suck it up and deal with it!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Whole New Mind

Create your own video slideshow at

Meaning - Super Summary

In this section, Mr. Pink suggests that because we live in an era of abundance and are "freed" from true suffering and struggle" we now have the luxury to search for true meaning and purpose in life. We do not have to struggle to survive so we are able to focus our attention on deeper aspects of life. Pink quotes Robert William Fogel, a Nobel laureate economist, "People have enough to live, but nothing to live for; they have the means, but no meaning." Gregg Easterbrook, an American journalist agrees, stating, "A transition from material want to meaning want is in progress on a historically unprecedented scale... and may eventually be recognized as the principal cultural development of our age".

After suggesting that this movement towards meaning is happening around the world, Pink defines to practical ways for people to gain meaning in their lives; 1) Taking spirituality seriously and 2) Taking happiness seriously.

1) When discussing spirituality he writes of a conference at MIT where the Dalai Lama was participating in a "gabfest" with scientists about the links between Buddhism and science. The Dalai Lama was interested in learning what scientists were learning about the brain and scientists were curious about what the brain was doing while people meditate. Scientist have found that spirituality appears to be "hard-wired" into the human brain and runs through the right hemisphere - which makes sense considering that the right brain is responsible for the big picture type of thinking. Mr. Pink makes it very clear that he is not describing religion, but "the more broadly defined concern for the meaning and purpose of life" or "the belief in something larger than ourselves". Another interesting point he makes is that we should take spirituality seriously because of its ability to improve health - stress, heart disease, anxiety disorders, etc. can be improved by attending to the spirit. Pink also mentions recent surveys that suggest employees would be more satisfied in their workplace if there was a sense of meaning incorporated in their daily work.

2) According to Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, founder of the "positive psychology" movement, things that contribute to happiness are being engaged in satisfying work, avoiding negative events and emotions, being married and having a rich social network. Seligman suggests that to live with the highest form of happiness a person must use their signature strengths to achieve gratification in the main areas of their life. He also states that the happiness is good for business because happy people are more productive.

Portfolio highlights:
  • In order to gain more meaning in life write a thank you letter to someone who has been kind and generous to you and read the letter to them - it is called a "gratitude visit".
  • Take the 20-10 test: If you had $20 million in the bank or knew you had 10 years to live, would you be at your current job?
  • Take a Sabbath: not necessarily a religious rest, but a day when you turn off the world. Don't check the email, pay the bills or answer the phone. Allow some time to rest and relax.
  • Visit a labyrinth.
  • Picture yourself at ninety. What does your life look like? What do you regret, what did you contribute, what have you accomplished?
Afterword: Our future will depend on these three questions:
1) Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
2) Can a computer do it faster?
3) Am I offering something that satisfies the non-material, transcendent desires of an abundant age?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Summary- Play

I also enjoyed this section on play. As I thought about it,I realized in my family it seems as if play comes easier to the guys. We sometimes tease them about growing up, but I think I need to lighten up more. I liked the part where they talked about wanting people to relclaim their childlike playfulness. My granddaughter was here over Thanksgiving and it was so much fun to watch that playfulness and be a part of it. I need to do that more.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Part 5 - Play

I enjoyed this section because of the content being about "play". I definitely believe people need to lighten up and stop taking everything SOOOO serious. Although I believe "play" needs to be a bigger part of our lives, this is going to depend on a person's personality. If a person tends to be work driven and doesn't like to take a break or have a little fun, it is going to be harder for that person to relax a little and get a little silly. More outgoing people who like to socialize, tell jokes, and have fun probably won't have much of a problem being a little playful. I supposed there could be a balance of both but hopefully more towards the playful side!!!

Play - Super Summary

This section of the book talks about Play and its importance in work, business, and personal life, through the use of games, humor, and joyfulness. Games teach whole-minded lessons. Humor is an indicator for managerial effectiveness and emotional intelligence. Joyfulness proves to make people more productive and fulfilled.

The formulation of Laughter Clubs, development of computer and video games, and the use of humor are discussed in this section. The purpose of the laughter clubs is to make people more playful. Playfulness activates the right side of the brain.

Video games can be "the ultimate learning machine." (J.P. Gee - U of Wisconsin) Gee states: "...when kids play video games they can experience a much more powerful form of learning than when they're in the classroom. Learning isn't about memorizing isolated facts. It's about connecting and manipulating them." Playing video games increases visual perception, the ability to detect changes in the environment, and the capacity to process information simultaneously. Evidence also shows better pattern recognition and problem-solving abilities.

The research in these areas is so compelling that university medical programs and the military have developed games for their training programs. Other universities have begun to offer degrees in entertainment technology and have included video games in their media studies programs.

The effective use and recognition of humor is one of the highest and most evolved human cognitive functions and indicates high emotional intelligence. The skillful use of humor can reduce hostilities, deflect criticism, relieve tension, improve moral, and help with communication. Research shows that laughter can decrease stress hormones and boost the immune system. People who laugh are more creative and productive, and work well with others.

Pink offers activities to promote Play such as the "Cartoon Caption Game" and "Dissect a Joke". He also informs us of a sense of humor scale that has been created, and provides the url for the site to take the test. He is adamant about our need to examine and understand video games to be able to understand the powerful new grammar, narrative pattern, and thinking styles that games are teaching. He provides many websites and magazine titles which will aid in our investigations.