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Automatic English For The People

Friday, March 10, 2006

Transcendent Teaching

The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind-- computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind-- creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people-- artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers-- will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.

--Dan Pink

Something clicked when I read this passage.. the opening to Dan Pink's new book "A Whole New Mind". I finally got it. Traditional teachers and I do not just disagree on matters of curriculum or "approach". Its not really a matter of technique.

The division goes much much deeper than that. Our differences are fundamental... we think and perceive in entirely different ways. They dont, and cant, "get" what Im trying to say. And I absolutely dont get them.

Traditional educators remind me of the lawyers, programmers, and MBAs that Pink mentions. They are numbers people. They are all about "hard facts". They love numeric measures. They love grades. They love structure.... and standardization. They are, as a rule, left brain analytical people. No wonder they have such entrenched loyalty to "skills building" and grammar analysis. This mindset goes to their core. Such people will never become passionate big picture people with an intuitive touch.

Frankly, thats fine with me. I dont write for traditional educators. Im sure there will always be a niche for them... possibly a very large niche.

But its clear their monopoly is over. In all fields.. from science, to technology, to business, to education... left-brain number crunchers are losing their dominance. Its happening quickly in some fields, slowly in others. But increasingly, cracks are appearing.

These cracks are widening,... opening fantastic opportunities for right-brain, touchy-feely, intuitive creatives. And thats great news for teachers like me.

Truth be told, we hold a competitive advantage. Students have more options.. and they are expanding every year. They are no longer content with the boring same-old same-old. They are bored with grammar-analysis. They may not know exactly what they want.. but they know they want something MORE. They want more meaning. They want more autonomy and power. They want deeper emotional connections. They want "kick ass" experiences.

The basics being equal... they will flock to teachers who provide MORE... who go beyond the status quo... who deliver, in Tom Peters words, "Wow experiences".

From a purely Machiavellian, career-potential point of view... teachers who are designers, consolers, artists, and innovators have the advantage. They hold a huge competitive advantage over those who crunch through the same-old textbook, give the same-old tests,... use the same-old approach.

Increasingly, it pays to be a radical.

San Francisco, CA

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