Sunday, February 05, 2012

Ultra Boy

I loaned my friend, Ben, that book, A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink.

I previously blogged about the book as one of the books I've taken along on my design journey (here).  Pink describes that we need more creative, holistic thinkers, (like my friend Ben), and talks about the kinds of skills right brainers have such as symphony (bringing disparate elements together) and story (putting together facts into a cohesive, contextual narrative).  I do think it is time for the Right Brainers to take over. The left brainers can only take us so far and seem to do it without conscience.


Ben was talking to his wife, and they wondered if I am right brained or left brained, and couldn't figure which one I was.  I understand their confusion.  I am different things at different times. 

I used to read comics as a kid. I liked the Teen Titans because it was this legion of young superheroes. Superboy (young Superman) was a member, but things seemed too easy because he had all these great powers all of the time. How could he possible fail?  There was not tension or interest in that situation. 

There was this other teen, Ultra Boy. He was like Superboy, but he could only use one of his super powers at a time, (e.g. he couldn't fly and be invulnerable or be strong at the same time). He had to consciously decide which of his powers worked best in each situation. 

from http://www.legiononline.net/volume1/pics/jo.jpg

I feel like that kid. I have a bunch of talents. I say that with all humility because the problem is I can't use them all of the time, plus the talents are not super strong individually (e.g. super smell, super funny, super sensitive, etc.), plus I have no control over which one I get to use, plus sometimes they just don't work.  For example, I have an exact memory of what a co-worker was wearing the first day we worked together 20 years ago. How useful is that?  Another time, I could tell who was getting on the elevator four floors below because of their perfume. (Supersmell is not a great ability to have in an elevator).

So if I had to label myself,  I guess I am involuntarily multi-brained. My principal once did these profiles on us which were plotted on this circle, and my two dominant styles were on opposite ends of the wheel which doesn't happen much. It's a constant struggle with me. I like to be creative, but my analytical side doesn't see the use in it. I see the big picture, but get mired in details. I like people, but not crowds.  I guess that's why I like blogging.  I can use my creativity when the ability and inspiration present themselves to me which is a schedule I can't predict. 

In terms of the classroom, students are like many versions of Ultra Boy.  They have all of these talents but have to make a conscious decision to use them.  The problem is that they have NO idea of what those talents are.  My job is to help bring those talents out for them to recognize so they can use them (for good, not evil).  The best way I know to do this is to present them with a variety of experiences so they can show their best selves.  The classroom environment plays a key role in that.  If I just give them the same routines everyday, they may never get to see their hidden talents.  Some of my kids are great at sitting in a desk and doing what they are told.  A whole bunch of my kids are not, and the variety of my classroom environment helps them explore the circumstances where they have talents and how they should use them.  Just like Ultra Boy.



p.s Ben sent me this link about stand up desks.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/us/25desks.htmlEnjoy
and my wife and my friend Lisa coincidentally sent me the same link of a blogpost on classroom design
http://teachwellnow.blogspot.com/2012/01/classroom-design.html

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