The Five Minds for Success – Reading Response no. 6

In this text, psychologist Howard Gardner suggests five types of minds that he believes we need to take on in order be successful in the future. Relating to mental attitudes opposed to skills and knowledge, the five minds he asserts are:

1. The disciplined mind – one that holds the ability to persist to attain a specific skill or certification
2. The synthesizing mind – one that makes connections between disparate pieces of information
3. The creating mind – one that comes up with new ideas and offers fresh outlooks towards things
4. The respectful mind – one that takes special consideration of others, welcomes human differences and tries to work effectively with all kinds of people
5. The ethical mind – one who is conscious of how their actions and work affects society

He then goes on to critique the education sector and its narrow focus on science and technology. Her primary argument is that if the education does not broaden its curriculum to encompass social sciences (such as arts, humanities, civics, ethics health and safety) then individuals will never be able to adopt the five mindsets that will enable them to succeed.

Upon initial thought, I was transported back to high school and the familiar phrase ‘when are we ever going to use this in life?’ entered my head. In some respects, this age-old question has some level of merit to it, as realistically we rarely revisit our high school science and maths unless we choose to go down that path. The formal education system is quite traditionalist in the sense that the curriculum has changed very little in the last 50 or so years in light of the fact that our society has changed in such drastic ways.

However, relating the text to my own experience I would have to disagree with the apparent exclusivity of formal education. At my high school, we were offered a range of social science subjects in addition to traditional science and technology-related knowledge. In terms of the respectful and ethical minds – which are more so associated with human relations – we also undertook workshops and activities that had the end goal of improving our social skills and ability to work with one another. While we never learnt to do our taxes and how to truly ‘adult’ as they say, I feel like I came away with a breadth of knowledge that has certainly helped me to acquire the five mindsets, or at least in getting a taste of each.

Overall, I saw the point that the author was making but I do feel as though there were some gaps in their discussion. Perhaps the education system is making progress, but still has a long way to go.

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