Books: A Whole New Mind

I recently received an interesting newsletter from Right Brain Kids (TweedleWink) introducing an interesting book that caught my attention: “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink.

Whole New Mind

 

And this is the story that caught my attention:

Teaching Science… The Right Brain Way

Mr. Jordan and Mr. Brown were good friends. They were both science teachers at Lincoln High School. The incoming sophomore class was so big one year that they each had to teach a class in Biology to handle the load.

At the beginning of the year, they jokingly made a bet with each other that they would have higher overall scores than the other come midterm exams. They agreed to use the identical exam and went about the contest of who was the better teacher.

Mr. Jordan heaped up the homework and surprised his students with frequent pop exams.

Mr. Brown, however, decided to play.

Mr. Brown dressed up, sang and danced to teach new material. His students certainly felt silly when he had them act out the concepts in the book. The desks were all pushed to the wall so that they could form a huge plant cell. Dozens of students held hands in order to form the cell wall. Then different students pretended to be the vital parts inside, including the all-important nucleus.

Then Mr. Brown had his students design matching playing cards with all the biology terms in the first half of their textbooks.

What did they do with them? They played “Go Fish” during class time. But the most popular game of all was charades, when the students had to act out the concepts for others to guess. They laughed at his teaching techniques, but a chapter review showed that they knew their stuff!

The overall midterm exams were very close. Mr. Brown’s students won by a slim margin, but they decided to continue the contest for one simple reason: they wanted Mr. Brown to keep up the games.

At year’s end, Mr. Brown’s students won by a wide margin… and better yet, they had a blast doing it! The guidance counsellor said that he had an overwhelming number of requests for “repeat performances” when students from both classes signed up for Chemistry with him the following year!

Now that resonates with the kind of education I want my children to have – one that keeps them coming back for more because it interests them and because they enjoy it. Inevitably, the things you learn that will make a difference later in life are the things that you enjoy and are personally interested in. If your child is just studying to pass an exam and to get through school then he’s wasting his time because he won’t retain what he studied. It was found that when students cram for an exam, they don’t just forget most of it, it’s like they have no memory of ever having learned it. If your child is not even going to remember that he studied it, then why would you bother making him go through the motions of learning it? And if there is a more interesting and fun way for our children to learn where they will actually retain what they have learned, then that should be the way we educate our children.

About A Whole New Mind

I haven’t read the book but it’s on my booklist. So here’s what was written about it:

Lawyers. Accountants. Software engineers. That’s what Mom and Dad encouraged us to become. They were wrong. Gone is the age of “left-brain” dominance. The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: designers, inventors, teachers, storytellers – creative and empathic “right-brain” thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t. Drawing on research from around the advanced world, Daniel Pink outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are essential for professional success and personal fulfillment and reveals how to master them. From a laughter club in Bombay, to an inner-city high school devoted to design, to a lesson on how to detect an insincere smile, A Whole New Mind takes listeners to a daring new place, and offers a provocative and urgent new way of thinking about a future that has already arrived.