A Whole New Mind

I’ve admired author Daniel Pink’s writing since his first book, Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live, appeared in 2001.

That groundbreaking book was about the growing ranks of people who work for themselves, often from their homes, and how their different and unique ways of looking at earning a living are changing our culture. Dan understands how homeschooling is impacting this trend toward greater self-realization, and he wrote about how new ways of learning such as homeschooling and apprenticeships are affecting how we all think about education and the corporate model. Pink writes, “Since most other institutions in American society have changed dramatically in the past half-century, the stasis of schools is strange. The one American institution that has least accommodated itself to the free agent economy is the one Americans claim they value most.”

In an excellent article for Reason magazine in October, 2001, Dan wrote, ” For much of the 20th century, the U.S. depended on what I call the Thanksgiving turkey model of education. We placed kids in the oven of formal education for 12 years, and then served them up to employers. (A select minority got a final, four-year basting at a place called college.) But this model doesn’t work in a world of accelerated cycle times, shrinking company half-lives, and the rapid obsolescence of knowledge and skills. In a free agent economy, our education system must allow people to learn throughout their lives. Home schooling and alternatives to high school will create a nation of self-educators, free agent learners, if you will. Adults who were home-schooled youths will know how to learn and expect to continue the habit throughout their lives.”

With Free Agent Nation Daniel Pink took homeschooling to the next obvious level, and with his new book, A Whole New Mind, he continues exploring the concept. From his website: “Lawyers. Accountants. Radiologists. Software engineers. That’s what our parents encouraged us to become when we grew up. But Mom and Dad were wrong. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind. The era of ‘left brain’ dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which ‘right brain’ qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning-predominate. That’s the argument at the center of this provocative and original book, which uses the two sides of our brains as a metaphor for understanding the contours of our times.”

Now, with his second book ready to move to the paperback edition, Dan asks for help from his readers: “Is there an exercise you’ve found useful in sharpening your aptitude for Design or your capacity for Symphony? A tool you’ve used to get better at Story or Empathy? A book, magazine, or web site you’d recommend for deepening a sense of Play or Meaning?

If so, I’d like to hear from you. If we use your suggestion, you’ll get: 1) full credit on the page on which your idea appears; 2) several free copies of the paperback; and 3) a chance to share your knowledge with tens of thousands of other readers. Send your Portfolio ideas to portfolios@danpink.com by October 31. Thanks, as always, for your sharing your creativity, enthusiasm, and brainpower.

One Response to A Whole New Mind

  1. BJ Fogg on November 12, 2005 at 9:44 am

    Storytelling is one of the most important abilities, yet we’re losing this tradition (and skill) very quickly, thanks to TV and other forces.

    When I started testing YackPack (disclosure: this is my companay; I’ve got a vested interest), our field trials showed that this messaging platform is ideal for telling stories.

    YackPack allows you to send audio messages to a private group of people. So naturally, people start telling stories to their group (a six minute limit on audio messages). And then these messages are stored.

    So that’s what I would suggest (or will suggest to Dan).

    –BJ Fogg

    Consulting Professor, Stanford University, Learning, Design & Technology

    Founder, YackPack

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