Pink wrote A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future which I had read in 2005 when it was published.
I think most of us would accept that information workers have a greater economic importance today than in the past when physical laborers drove the economy. Pink's claim that the workplace is shifting again and that people with strong right brain qualities will have the advantage would be much more controversial - especially in a school setting.
There's a lot to talk about in that book: economic forces that value right-brain abilities, his own list of 6 artistic, empathic abilities that are gaining value, and how schools may be starting to value those abilities.
The right/left brain theory has come under a lot of criticism since it first emerged, so that alone will get some argument.
I pulled the book off the shelf in the college library yesterday and paged through it again. This post isn't mean to be a book review and there's a quote in that magazine that I scribbled on my notepad that is where my interest lies.
"We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past," says Rich Menisco from the Fairfax County Schools in Virginia.
That is the real issue for me. I don't know that right-brain tasks are overshadowing left-brain tasks in importance. I'm not exactly clear on what the important 21st century skills will be in the workforce and economy. I'd question anyone who was certain that they knew what future our students will have, but I fully support efforts to answer these questions.
I guess my real question is not whether we need a whole new mind, but rather how schools are addressing both brain hemispheres because we don't know what our students will need.
It's hard to downplay that left side that does much of the math, logic, and linear reasoning as unimportant in a society where machines have replaced bodies. Those machines came from minds that certainly had some left-brain power, but the best of them needed creativity and abstract reasoning from the other side.
We have the mind already. We just don't value all of its abilities enough to allow a diversity in thinking, training, schooling.
Software is very good at left-brain tasks, but the "intelligence" that we have such trouble building artificially into pieces of hardware or software always seems to be those right qualities.
I'm not convinced that people who don't nurture their right brain skills "may miss out, or worse, suffer" in the new economy - then again, Dan Pink's book Free Agent Nation was right in 2002 in showing the shift from the "organization man" of the 1950's to the growing sector of self-employed in this century.
It's encouraging to see different groups paying attention to "R-directed thinking" - like this post on Designing Better Libararies that does that and talks about (new to me) "blended" librarians.
Thinking the right way is more than just using the right side of the brain.