A Whole New Mind - Essay

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A Whole New Mind
Almarene Lowndes
EDL 546 – Summer 2012
May 31, 2012

A whole new mind is a must read for ALL teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders. This book has inspired me to seriously think about my own teaching practices as I strive to prepare my students and I for professional success. After reflecting on the concepts in Daniel Pinks’ book I have asked myself if my school District and I are effectively preparing my students for the future? With budget cuts, high stakes testing, and pressure to raise student test scores have we failed to foster activities that enable students to utilize their brains right hemisphere ultimately, leaving them unequipped for our future? We have reduced the amount of time elementary students spend in Art, Music, and PE. In my own Kindergarten classroom I often struggle with allowing my students to build their creativity because of the pressure of time constraints and adhering to learning schedules/pacing guides.

In the introduction, Pink gives background knowledge on the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain and clears up misconceptions that many people hold. Pink tells us that the left and right hemispheres of the brain work together. However, the left hemisphere is sequential which gives it the capability to analyze details and the right hemisphere is simultaneous which aids in synthesizing the bigger picture. This information can easily be related to teaching.

When teaching my kindergarten students concepts of print, phonemic awareness, and phonics I am tapping into my students left hemisphere. For example, teaching my kindergarteners that we read from left to right, learning the alphabet, and decoding are activities that utilize their left hemisphere. The use of lower to higher level questioning requires students to utilize their left and right hemisphere as well. For example, after reading a story to my class, we discuss and answer questions about the texts we have read. When I ask my students to recall information from a story the left hemisphere is more active. However, when I ask my students higher-level questions that require them to think beyond the story their brains are eliciting help form the right hemisphere. Examples, of these types of questions are: how do you think the character feels, what is the most important part of the story, and what personal connections can you make to the story? Even things such as speech, fluency, and cadence of a story require students to utilize their brains right hemisphere. In a cleverly titled section called: Fear and Loathing in My Amygdales n Pink describes, “the two almond-shaped structures that serve as the brain’s Homeland Security.” They are called amygdalas. The function of these structures is to process emotions particularly fear. He explained that the left hemisphere is more active in processing this information. I found it interesting when he stated that the right amygdala is stimulated when processing faces. It is able to analyze the parts of a face as a whole to come to a conclusion about how one feels. Pink mentioned that this idea transcends to any culture. As an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) certified teacher, I most often receive students who do not speak the English language. One strategy that I use is facial expressions to convey meaning which I now know requires support from our brains right hemisphere. According to Pink our culture has always held L-Directed Thinkers such as lawyers and engineers in high esteem. He points out that now value is being placed on the R-Directed Thinkers such as artist, counselors, and inventors. While I would argue, that both types are thinkers are needed. In my own classroom I would like to make a conscious effort to foster both types of thinkers so that my students can successfully integrate both ways of thinking into their lives.

According to Pink teachers live R-Directed lives. However,...
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