Week 6 Reading Response

Howard Gardner, the author of ‘Five Minds For The Future’ (2007), is a researcher in psychology, who, in this book, looks forward to the future, in order to predict the ways our brains may need to develop. In his chapter ‘Minds Viewed Globally’, he introduces his ‘five minds’. They are:

  • The disciplined mind: which ‘knows how to work steadily over time to improve skill and understanding’.
  • The synthesising mind: that gathers material or information from various places and sources and collates these findings.
  • The creating mind: which breaks new ground in innovation.
  • The respectful mind: that ‘notes and welcomes differences between human individuals’, and,
  • The ethical mind: which analyses the ways that humans may be able to better the world.

Gardner’s concern is ‘to convince [readers] of the need to cultivate these minds and illustrate the best ways to do so…’, in order for people to stay current and thrive in the future. He believes that education is at the root of preparing people for their futures and thus, the education system should be doing more to include these ‘five minds’ into their curriculum. I agree with Gardner in that primary and secondary school teachers have been doing the same thing for a long time…too long. For example, recitation is a very simple way to learn and has been common practice for educational institutions for centuries, however, studies have shown that students cannot retain information through that process for much longer than a few days. Gardner comments that: ‘at the start of the third millennium, we live at a time of vast changes’. Hence, I think that education needs to change with the times and educators should not be afraid of these changes. They need to adopt new technologies into their teaching practices, so that their students do not fall behind in the future.

When hiring, Gardner asserts that employers will/should be basing their decisions on the ‘five minds’ and will/should be searching for individuals who have cultivated all five of them. Thus, teachers need to be helping students to grow these five minds, so that they will be eligible for the jobs of the future.


Week 5 Reading Response

In Judy Wajcman’s ‘Finding Time in a Digital Age’ (2015) she discusses the idea of time and how we currently live in what she calls an ‘accelerated’ society. She contends that technology ‘reconfigures’ time and suggests that we ought to recognise that time is a man-made creation, its source a machine: the clock. Although machines were made to save us time and make work/production more efficient, they have in fact done the opposite: ‘the unparalleled velocity of computerisation, telecommunications, and transport, which was expected to free up human time, has paradoxically been accompanied by a growing sense of time pressure’; an acceleration, as it might be. For instance, a computer is a mechanism that was meant to ‘save’ us time, in simple areas such as word processing. This kind of technology was supposed to leave room for more leisure time in our lives. However, today, there is a blurred line between work and play, because these kinds of technologies have intruded on our home lives. The ability to work from home, as a result of advanced communication devices, has allowed employees and employers to design their own business hours (rather than sticking to the traditional 9-5 office hours). People are now able to work as little, but more significantly, as much, as they would like to. Wajcman has found that people are now working more than people were during the first industrial revolution, even though they are actually far wealthier. She believes that this is because the western, capitalist society that we live in ‘…inflames our insatiable desire for consumption of goods’. I agree with this argument, because I think that the capitalist mindset of working hard, and being rewarded for this in the form of success, has given rise to the idea that we can’t enjoy our leisure time for the sake of leisure. As a result, Wajcman asserts that the unemployed have been demonised  in society, as they are perceived as ‘time-wasters’.

I found this article interesting because I think there is value in ‘wasting time’, day dreaming and procrastinating. I believe this is where a lot creativity stems from (at least for me). If you’re always in a rush, how can you possibly develop a fully formed idea? Without enough rest from work, how can your brain function at a high enough level to come up with an original and innovative concept? Wajcman’s belief that we are ultimately our own timekeepers is an empowering theory and is a reminder of the importance of ‘slowing down’.


Week 4 Reading Response

Two different approaches to work are presented in Cal Newport’s chapter on ‘The Clarity of the Craftsman’ in his book ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’. He entitles the two approaches as ‘the passion mindset’ and ‘the craftsman mindset’. ‘Whereas the craftsman mindset focuses on what you can offer the world, the passion mindset focuses instead on what the world can offer you.’ Newport mainly concentrates on creative work, such as music and comedy, and contends that if you adopt the craftsman mindset first, then the passion and love for your work will follow. Essentially the craftsman mindset is when you are constantly working towards getting better and improving your ‘craft’ or your ‘art’. Newport quotes music veteran Mark Casstevens in saying that ‘an obsessive focus on the quality of what you produce is the rule in professional music’ as this ‘trumps your appearance, your equipment, your personality, and your connections’. This concept can definitely apply to other art forms as well.

On the other hand, the passion mindset is when you do what you love, because you think it will provide you with happiness and success. However, Newport suggests that this can lead people to become hyper-aware of what they don’t like about their art/work, which then leads to ‘chronic unhappiness’. I found this interesting because it goes against everything my parents used to tell me about finding work. When I was still in high school, trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, my parents and teachers all used to tell me that I should just do what I love, because the grades and the success would simply grow out of that passion. However, this article asserts that ‘the craftsman mindset offers clarity, while the passion mindset offers a swamp of ambiguous and unanswerable questions’, like ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What do I truly love?’.

Nevertheless, I think there is a bit of push and pull between the two mindsets. It is hard to have the craftsman mindset of trying to constantly get better at what you do, if don’t have any passion or love for what you are doing. The case studies that the writer uses for the craftsman mindset, the musician Jordan Tice and comedian Steve Martin, obviously both love what they do (at least enough to continue with the same trade for many years), as well as wanting to hone their craft. I think it is also important to sometimes think about what your work might be offering you. If you just ‘put your head down and plug away’ at work, as Newport suggests, you may ignore the fact that the workplace you are in is exploiting you or there may be a better job out there more suited to you. To counter this argument, Newport says that ‘regardless of how you feel about your job right now, adopting the craftsman mindset will be the foundation on which you’ll build a compelling career’.

Week 3 Reading Response

Overall, Ramon Lobato and Julia Thomas’ article on Work in their book ‘The Informal Media Economy’ was completely terrifying for me and made me remember all of the anxieties I have surrounding work in the Media industry. Although they mainly talk about journalists (whose work took a hit very early on due to the internet), the article can apply to almost all creative industries. Lobato and Thomas concentrate on ‘informal’ and flexible work, like freelancing, which is a definite possibility for me, as an aspiring filmmaker, in the future. They have found that: ‘for many people involved in the actual labour of media production and distribution, much of which is repetitive and lowly paid, informal media work has a real downside: it can mean insecurity, overwork and low pay’. Even in my very limited experience working in the media industry I have found this to be true. I am constantly letting people exploit me (for instance, interning for over 6 months without being paid) and working overtime, all because I am getting experience doing something I love.

This article also looks at outsourcing creative work, which has become a common occurrence due to the internet. Media companies (whether it be video production houses or newspapers) can pay people next to nothing for content creation, as there is no minimum pay standards or unions for these creatives, and they are competing on a global forum. These companies are thus free to cash in on young and unexperienced people’s need for building a ‘wholesome’ resume. As a result of this outsourcing, journalism in particular, has become ‘deprofessionalised’, making it harder and harder for audiences to trust what they are reading, seeing or hearing. Lobato and Thomas quote Bakker (2012), in saying that ‘for professional journalists, this whole industry is an affront that devalues research and writing and floods the internet with rubbish’.

Wow, I cannot wait to be a media professional.