Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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A Whole New Mind about Education
By Barbara Bray    January 23, 2010 -- 05:27 PM

My eCoachís Book Club
book until 2/15/10.
I just finished "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink for our book club. Iíve participated in conferences, read books, and watched TED videos that talk about bringing creativity and innovation back to the classroom. My last post was about how Piaget explains that schools were designed to train our factory workers and where that model isnít working anymore. From Pinkís book, Piagetís explanation, and so many other sources that I am learning about, we are in the midst of CHANGE, if we like it or not.

Educators created a system, just like the QWERTY keyboard, that is outdated. Peopleís jobs depend on the system continuing. How do you start a new keyboarding system when all of our computers and cell phones have the QWERTY keyboard? I donít even think you can shake up the existing school system to make it work for our students kind of like that darn old keyboard.

We need to start over!

If our students need to be free thinkers - right-brainers - entrepreneurial, then we need to redesign how and when students learn. Our system is set up to tell students what to think, how to think, and what they need to learn right from day one. Thatís not going to work if our children need to be prepared for their future. Actually, I mean, to prepare them for today.

Work has changed. Government has changed. The world is changing. We are competing for jobs in a global marketplace. China and India are quick to get their people trained for left-brained work. Training our people for right-brained work means something completely different. Maybe we need to let others have the left-brain type of work and we design an education system that is right-brain directed.

Right-brainers think on their own. They have their own ideas and know how to work with others to brainstorm new ideas. One thing I know is that young children start out right-brain directed. They ask questions. They are curious about everything. When they start school, now even in preschool, teachers teach them to stop asking questions, stand in straight lines, and, ugh!!!, how to fill in a bubble on a test.

What if...
  • we created creativity centers instead of elementary schools?
  • we encouraged teachers and students to play and innovate?
  • students worked in teams based on interest or ability?
  • play was designed around teamwork and competition?
  • students designed games around content?
  • teachers guided students around these creativity centers?
  • teachers went to Playshops instead of Workshops?
  • assessment used authentic tasks with evidence demonstrating understanding?
  • understanding meant more than answering a question with only one right answer?
 I can go on but what are your "What ifs?" Letís talk about this and what school can look like that encourages creativity and innovation. 

Categories: "What If?" "Creativity" "Innovation" "Daniel Pink" "A Whole New Mind" "Education" "Play" "Questions"

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Comments: Add New Comments
By small Hilary Naylor      January 25, 2010 -- 05:22 PM
dear Barbara,
I agree with you about changing, and the need for our education system to be redesigned. I'm pessimistic about the rate at which that can happen.
  I have a small quibble with you about what our students need to be: not "right brainers" but "whole brainers". Talking about being right-brained grew out of a large body of interesting research on the effects of brain damage on cognition. It lead to the recognition that the right side of the brain is not just spare parts for the left, but has particular functions like face recognition and spatial ability. But no one ever found creativity in the right brain! If our students were right-brained they wouldn't be able to understand language, talk or use language to express themselves! It takes an integrated whole brain to be creative.


Reply to Hilary Naylor

By small Barbara Bray      January 25, 2010 -- 05:38 PM
You are right on this. When I wrote right-brain directed, I meant "whole brain" and the ability to use more of the right brain. Have you ever seen the video of Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke and her experience as a brain scientist. She walks you through her stroke on the left-side of her brain where she lost language, memory, the ability to walk and talk and think and unleashed her energy and creativity from her right-brain. Watch it and then tell me what you think.

Reply to Barbara Bray


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