Must kids prep for ‘risk-taking’? asks USA Today in a a story on the “right-brain future” spiel of Patrick Bassett, president of the National Association of Independent Schools (private schools).
Here’s the Cliff Notes version: As traditional jobs in the left-brain world of finance shrink, the USA’s economy will increasingly be tethered to creative innovations rooted in right-brain thinking.
Bassett was inspired by Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.
At High Tech High, a charter school in San Diego, students are encouraged to use those skills to practical ends such as dreaming up new sources of energy or calculating ways to stretch the West’s limited water supply, says the school’s CEO, Larry Rosenstock.
“You want kids who are math whizzes, yes. But you want them to also have the creative talent to apply those math skills to find answers to big questions.”
Barrett praises other schools that are pushing students to think outside the box. He cites Fay School in Southborough, Mass., whose students last year teamed with peers at South Saigon International School in Vietnam. Using video chats and a specially created online wiki-space, they designed a “socially conscious business model” that involved both selling products and creating public service announcements to build awareness for disaster relief.
“That’s the future,” he says. “Kids being analytical and creative to come up with solutions for us all.”
Well, the kids are our future. Or, at least, they used to be.
The “killer app” of the 21st century will be combining right-brain innovations with left-brain skill sets, proclaims a companion story. Hmmm. A whole brain is better than half a brain!
Put bluntly: The economic engine needs more iPods (a talisman no one really knew to miss until it arrived) and fewer data-crunchers (tasks that can be shipped overseas or tackled with software such as TurboTax).
The article’s examples aren’t always convincing: Is our economic future dependent on lawyers who become interior decorators, Wall Street analysts who start cookie businesses or investment bankers who turn into web photographers?
On the other hand:
First- and second-year Harvard Med students now vie to get into (Joel) Katz’s 10-week course that uses Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to teach future physicians how to critically analyze famous paintings.
Those who take the art course typically show “a 50% improvement” in assessing a patient’s symptoms, says Katz, himself an internist. “Usually doctors are not trained in humanism. Students usually say this has expanded their way of thinking, which benefits the patient.”
Though I was a creative writing major, I’m a logical, linear thinker. I don’t look around and see a surplus of logical thinkers, nor a shortage of “creative” types. What we need are those whole-brain people.
Risk takers? Sure. But that’s not something anyone learns in school. It’s part of the American culture.