Week 6 – The 5 Minds

Howard Gardner, 2007, ‘Minds Viewed Globally: A Personal Introduction’ in Five Minds For the Future, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, ch.1.

It seems that each week these readings delve deeper into the bigger questions in life – this week had an overarching question of where is our society, and planet headed in the foreseeable future?

Psychologist, Gardner this week drew on a scientific perspective to introduce us to “The Five Minds” or the “Five Dramatis Personae” as he put it. He suggested that a person with these five different minds could deal with what is expected, but also what cannot be anticipated. They are applying what is required of everyone to live in a future that functions and co-operates.

The five minds mentioned are as follows:

1: The Disciplined Mind – a mode of cognition, with the skills to perfect any sort of specialization

2: The Synthesizing mind – the ability to not only take in and understand information, but also evaluate its meaning.

3: The Creating Mind – the constant ability to think of new ideas, and conjure new ways of thinking.

4: The Respectful Mind – an understanding of people’s differences, which is essential for productivity.

5: The Ethical Mind – putting others needs before your own is necessary in order to improve the way you, and other people work.

These five minds span both the cognitive spectrum and the human enterprise, also focusing on the policy of things rather than the psychology behind them.

Gardner then continues to connect his theory to some interesting points about our future. He believes that the current education system is preparing students primarily for the world of the past, rather than focusing on the possible world of the future. I can understand this – we are taught subjects like history, science and psychology – not that it is at all irrelevant – but they are more the reasons for why things are the way they are, or what has already happened. I think Gardner is suggesting we need to learn more about what might happen in the future. To support this, he also suggested that science can never tell you what to do in class or at work – what you do and how you operate among others has to come from your own value system. In order to do this you must be respectful (or otherwise you are toxic in the workplace), and you must have a number of disciplines in order to meet demands and succeed.


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