EDITOR’S NOTE: I compressed this essay and heavily edited it after finishing it, to fit a 2 page requirement, but it explains the main idea of three textbooks I had to read in a class this semester. I really liked Dan Pink’s a whole new mind which I show an obvious bias towards. The art of possibility is an interesting approach to education, and I really hated the Repko book, which was the gigantic, expensive, and dry textbook I make fun of in this review. I originally was not going to post this review, which is a classroom assignment for school, but I ended up being quite satisfied with how it turned out, which is why I am making this a Butter Yo Bread post. Thanks.
It is not very often in a classroom I find much enjoyment out of assigned textbooks. Often, textbooks are very high in price, and frequently they have no practical application. The professor often ends up tailoring class around a textbook and this usually constitutes as busy work, failing to supplement lecture material. However, in my Capstone course which is a final graduation class for Interdisciplinary Studies majors, the textbooks are carefully selected to bring a balance and tact to a frequently misunderstood major.
Dan Pink’s book, “A Whole New Mind” separates the two sides of the brain into opposite entities which seemingly work together to create a functioning human mind. Ben and Rosamund Zander’s “The Art of Possibility” situates learners in a unique position of what can be taken away from a learning experience and applying it towards everyday life, which serves as the primary objective of education as a whole. Allen Repko’s “Interdisciplinary Research” systematically breaks down the process of research from the perspective of more than one discipline. The descriptions of these three textbooks alone explain the Interdisciplinary Studies major, which is about discovering how different fields of study correlate with one another and how society can benefit from this approach.
I enjoyed Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” the most. Pink effectively characterizes the human brain into two juxtaposing characters that are paired together, needing to find a way to coexist. The left side of the brain is the methodical, numbers and facts obsessed side, which actually makes the brain function. Dan Pink’s portrayal of the right side of the brain, and the one he claims will begin to “rule the future”, is depicted as an abstract thinker with a childlike imagination. Dan Pink explains how left-brain thinking is being replaced by “Abundance, Automation and Asia,” which makes tasks like manufacturing and data-processing into routines done by machines and cheap outsourcing to other countries. To further supplement how right brained thinking can help an analytical left brain dominated society, Pink teaches us to use six aptitudes of right brain thinking, “Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning.”
Zander and Zander’s “The Art of Possibility” is a good second supplement, following A Whole New Mind. The book starts with students writing letters to Ben Zander about why they earned A’s in the course. To Ben, grades are not an indication of self-worth; instead he focuses his teachings around the principle of being a contribution to society, which is ultimately the long- lasting goal of education. Repko’s “Interdisciplinary Research” takes a very hard left-sided approach to the research process, which does not make for an entertaining read like the other two books, but an informative one instead. This Capstone class has been very omniscient towards the left side of the brain, since we have all been in classes which employ a traditional one-sided approach to learning. The methodical left-sided break-down to research is critical, since it easy to get caught in wild brainstorming mental acrobatics which is the right side of the brain. Repko reminds us of the importance to knowing what your disciplines are and discovering the ways opposing fields of study can work together to create new knowledge.
To conclude, I mentioned at the beginning of this brief essay about how the goal of interdisciplinary studies is to apply seemingly unrelated fields of study together to create new knowledge. While I show preference to Dan Pink, you can also appreciate the post-educational benefits to Zander and Zander and the practical interdisciplinary research methods of Repko. Some people like to use smoothie analogies, others prefer chunky peanut butter, it is all the same approach, society is going interdisciplinary and right brainers eventually will rule the future.