November 20th, 2007
Our educational system over-stresses the importance of logical, linear and verbal skills--all of these processed primarily by the left brain. In order to advance our capabilities now, to balance ourselves and come to wholeness, we need to regenerate our innate ability to tap into the irrational, metaphorical, symbol-making, intuitive, tonal and imaginative right brain.
Although most Americans watch a lot of television and see a lot of movies, which are, indeed, image-based, most of us have been rendered passive before images. Pop culture images are predictable and put together by professionals according to formulas.
Our imaginations are stunted. And, as Einstein stated, "imagination is more important than knowledge." So, we need to reactivate and strengthen our right-brain functions and, more importantly, to simultaneously integrate those with our left-brain functions to become whole-brained, integrated beings.
November 15th, 2007
E.O. Wilson, one of our most brilliant living heroes, preciently wrote in his 1999 bestseller, Consilience, "Thanks to science and technology, access to factual knowledge of all kinds is rising exponentially while dropping in unit cost. It is destined to become global and democratic. Soon it will be available everywhere on television and computer screens. What then? The answer is clear: synthesis. We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."
Many other luminaries have echoed this call for synthesis. One of Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future is "Synthesizing Mind," and Daniel Pink devotes a chapter of his recently released A Whole New Mind to "Symphony," the ability to draw together details from many different disciplines while holding in mind the big picture and what it takes to achieve harmony, balance, and beauty.
This whole-brain capacity has been the gifted and treasured realm of artists, writers, philosophers, and spiritual leaders all along, but these are realms of activity that our culture has not rewarded financially. Is this going to change now? How will we see this change?
This blog is devoted to providing a forum for the exploration and discussion of these and related topics. I invite your thoughts and wish to know specifically whom you would most like to hear from in an interview or panel discussion and what your most burning questions on these topics are.
November 12th, 2007
I have recently read Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future. His role in this book, I think, is as a futurist, steering educators, administrators, parents--all of us--towards evaluating curricula in terms of the Five Minds, so as to meet the pressing global human challenges ahead successfully. Einstin's adage: "Imagination is more important than knowledge" strikes me as being along the same lines. Similarly, it's not what you say but how you say it, as in one's tone of voice and the look on one's face. Imagination, and the tone & feel & spirit of things are aspects of the right brain and are typically associated with "feminine values." If you look closely at the Five Minds and what it would actually mean to develop and apply them universally, as paramount in education and society, you are looking at a profound shift in cultural and commercial values. Disciplined, Respectful, and Ethical minds are all more mature and spiritually engaged than what we find in the current competitive paradigm of big business and the "military-industrial complex." Synthesizing and creative minds are more right brain in nature and are, therefore, considered "feminine" in their values. If you actually get to the heart of what he is saying and listen closely, you hear the voice of an enlightened thinker calling for wisdom. If you are also able to synthesize and extract the essence here, you meet him where he lives, in his deep commitment to human development and the hope of realizing greater human potential through education. I'll leave you with a quotation from the book (sorry, no page number handy): "As far as I can see, short of peace pills or widespread extirpation of those brain nuclei or genes that support aggressive behaviors, the only possible avenue to progress lies in education, broadly conceived."