Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Amazon Online Reader : A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

Amazon Online Reader : A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

I read A Whole New Mind a few months ago and was impressed by author Daniel Pink's view of the increasing importance of creativity in the world today. Pink argued that the modern forces of abundance, Asia, and automation has created a need for people in the United States who are willing to be what he called "high concept" and "high touch". We have moved in history from the Agrarian age of farmers, to the industrial age of factory workers, to the Information age of knowledge workers, to where we currently are: the Conceptual age of creators and connectors. Pink believes that because of this modern reality the people who embrace the "high concept" and "high touch" senses will have an advantage in the Conceptual age. The 6 senses of the Conceptual age are:

  • Design (as opposed to just function)

  • Story (as opposed to just argument)

  • Symphony (as opposed to just focus)

  • Empathy (as opposed to just logic)

  • Play (as opposed to just seriousness)

  • Meaning (as opposed to just accumulations)

With Pink's thesis in mind we have been studying the Civil War a bit differently than students in my class have in the past. I have been focusing more intently on teaching the Civil War through Pink's 6 senses. For example:

  • The trip to Gettysburg highlighted the STORY of soldiers from Virginia who were caught up in an event beyond their control. Each student recieved the identity of a Virginia soldier who took part in Pickett's Charge. After hearing the STORY of their experience and walking the same ground they walked, students found out the destiny of their soldier. Students then had to EMPATHIZE with their soldier by writing a letter detailing their soldiers experience at Gettysburg.

  • The study of the advantages and strategies of the North and South during the Civil War gave students a big picture view of the War, much like a Conductor needs when conducting a SYMPHONY orchestra. We didn't just focus on one aspect of the war, rather we focused on the advantages and strategies allowing us to make MEANING out of the flow of the War.

  • Students are currently finishing up their online debate on the statement: The Confederacy was doomed to fail in the Civil War. Students have had to accumulate many points of view and pieces of information to make MEANING, in order to effectively communicate their point of view in the debate.

  • Students have read an actual account of a Civil War soldier (who by the way was my great, great Grandfather) who escaped the Confederate Prisoner of War camp called Andersonville. The STORY illustrates another reality of the Civil War and the time period of the mid 19th century. Students then had to DESIGN an illustrated Storyline (looks like a comic strip) taking 6 events and using direct quotes and illustrations to tell the STORY of my great, great Grandfather.

  • Currently we are working on creating a Civil War STORY based on an actual Civil War photograph that I posted on VoiceThread. In telling the story students will need to make a point or moral that illustrates a larger MEANING. They will also need to DESIGN their story with a twist or irony, making their STORY more interesting. The students who will succeed the most in this assignment are those that not just good writers, but also able to use SYMPHONY to their advantage. It is difficult to include all of the aspects of the STORY that I want and do the Civil War part of the STORY justice if students were not able to see a larger picture than what the photograph shows. Therefore, we are using Ambrose Bierce's An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge short STORY as an example of how a well DESIGNED STORY can illustrate the experience of a Civil War soldier.

  • The last of the 6 senses that I have yet to mention is PLAY. During Civil War Day students got to learn a lot about the Civil War and life in the 19th century from various reenactors. However, a full day of going from station to station hearing the serious aspects of the Civil War can be a bit much for the average 8th grader. With that in mind, Mr. Finkill, Mr. Beamer, and I presented the 3rd bi-annual Civil War skit. WIth Mr. Finkill as the "straight" man informing the audience of various aspects of the CIvil War, Mr. Beamer and I had fun torturing Mr. Finkill. Based on the laughter it was apparent that our PLAY (and we did PLAY) had the effect of educating while entertaining. In addition, students seem to have a good time PLAYING with the cannonball.

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