Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Right Brain Approach – A Whole New Mind

I just finished Daniel H. Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.” In it he talks about how the left hemisphere of the brain handles logic, sequence, literalness, and analysis. The right takes care of synthesis, emotional expression, context, and the big picture. (p. 25) He makes the case that in the future our society and our economy will increasingly become built more and more on right-directed thinking. Here’s an illustration from his book (p.50):
“When economies and societies depended on factories and mass production, left-brained thinking ruled. Then, as we moved to knowledge work, right-directed thinking took hold, though still second to left-directed thinking. As we continue to evolve, right-directed thinking is beginning to achieve social and economic parity. Left-directed thinking is still indispensable, but not sufficient. In the current age, we need a whole new mind. “(p. 50-51)

He goes on to say that you must think about what you’re doing to earn a living and ask yourself three questions:

1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
2. Can a computer do it faster?
3. Is what I’m offering in demand in an age of abundance?

This book was another example of why schools need to embrace the right-directed concept as much as left-directed thinking if we are really going to prepare our children for the future. With what I’ve witnessed over the past ten years in my own sons’ public schools, I’d say that left-directed teaching is much more prevalent than right-directed learning. We are a competitive, numbers-driven society, after all, so it’s no surprise the easily tested, regurgitated standards-based scholastic goals win out again and again over the artistic, subjective, performance-based objectives.

Another good read which speaks to this same point is Sir Ken Robinson’s “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.” You can also check out his TED lecture here: about how schools kill creativity in children.

I recommend “A Whole New Mind” to teachers, parents, older students and business people. Maybe it could be recommended at a staff or business meeting to spark discussion?


  1. The book sounds wonderful Kerry! It sounds exactly what we are trying to do at Nueva Hoja. Sustainability is the BIG buzz word. I believe it applies to more than just conservation. Daniel H. Pink gets it...and has applied it to education. It's important to integrate both sides. The truth lies in the middle, right. Creativity is key. Sounds like a MUST READ.

  2. Great job (as always)! Have you read any of the articles/books by Dr. Lawrence Diller out of Walnut Creek? Several parents that I know have gone to him for their own children. Have you read his book "The Last Normal Child?" I completely agree with the original reason that he even wrote this book. Some of his opinions mirror your view on things. Here's a link to one of his articles: on the rampant use of ADD medication on college campuses.

    Like Madeline Levine, I've found some of Diller's articles and comments to be thought provoking and a time to pause (and an occasional phantom pat on my own back).

    My two older sons are now home from college. Two different students, two very different colleges, two different first year experiences. I wasn't at all concerned about the academics. I was more concerned about whether they could survive (literally) the "college experience." To be quite frank, my husband and I were quite concerned that the high school peer climate seemed to focus so much on the "college experience." The most important asset that they learned and acquired from their k - 12 public education in my opinion - adult connections, mentors and role models. By the way, our boys did not take any of the SAT and other college test prep programs.

  3. I definitely would recommend this book to anybody in education and business. The world truly is changing, and I'm a firm believer that we need to be educating ourselves, and our children, to adapt and excel in the new realities of our world. I think Robinson's TED talk highlights this very well.