Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Revenge of the Right Brainers: Daniel Pink at the U of M

On Tuesday, June 3, while 30,000+ people were gathered in St. Paul to hear Barack Obama declare victory, there was a slightly smaller gathering in Minneapolis to hear noted author Daniel Pink at the University of Minnesota.
I decided to go the old fashioned route, and blog on paper, but the technology failed me! My pen stopped working on the first page!

A link to the audio from this talk will be here shortly.

At the request of the participants no photography was allowed, so here's my view from the "Bob Uecher seats!"

Pink and Darlyne Bailey, Dean of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, had a lively conversation covering many topics in Pink's three books. The following list (Pink said he likes lists...a lot!) include topics with relevance to K-12 education.
  1. On how educators can balance creativity with critical thinking, Pink maintained that the two sides were linked, and that as K-12 educators we needed to teach for the students future as opposed to their past. The jobs that students will have 20 years from now may not even be named yet, and so teaching critical thinking and creativity together is imperative.
  2. The K-12 buildings of today look and smell the same as they did 30 years ago! Research is showing that students who learn in "well designed" spaces have higher test scores. He advocated having students involved in the design process of educational space.
  3. It is more important to lead a life of significance than a life of success.
  4. "The way to change the system is to start changing the system!"
  5. "Too much of the work we make students do exists in artificial 'school world'." He mentioned writing a paper for a class compared to an article for the school newspaper as an example. The more authentic learning the better. (Sounds like "schooliness")
  6. As educators we should model and reward authenticity.
  7. He mentioned the best way to foster right brain thinking was to include autonomy, mastery, and purpose. He spoke of Best Buy's Result's Only Work Environment as a model for companies. (Could it work in education?) When Google gave employees 20% of their work day to work on things they wanted, 50% of the company's new offerings that year came from that time!

In her first question of the night, Dr. Bailey spoke about the syncronicity she felt when she was offered her new position and Pink's book came out. There was great interconnectedness. I felt the same thing when Pink started talking about educating students for their future, not our past, much like John Dewey over 60 years ago! (See video here.)

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