Great conversation published last winter between Dan Pink and Tom Friedman, two of the key guiding influences for this blog. Check it out here.
Reading it, it is easy to infer some of Friedman’s biggest emphases for 21st century success. What is required is the capacity to Synthesize, Navigate, Integrate, Imagine, and Write. There are other elements too; curiosity is important, as is an ability to intuit or indentify what is coming next. (Navigate is about managing your way through the internet, and having the internet savvy in evaluating on-line information and using it effectively. Instead of banning wikipedia, schools should teach kids to “triangulate” wikipedia information with other, more reliable sources, and then establish an effective interpretation of what the evidence is.)
Pink of course, somewhat amusingly, keeps trying to tie Friedman’s suggestions back to his own book and “Six Senses.” Friedman talks about integration, and Pink says it just like his concept of symphony; Friedman relates an anecdote about Steve Jobs needing skills both of algorithms and calligraphy for the apple, and Pink says that that is a “whole new mind.”
Integration is at the heart of much of this– integration, symphony, or what they call the “mash-up”. At Georgia Tech, one example provides, students take a class that is both computing and screenwriting, and then are assigned to “write an on-line play with what you have learned.”
Pink: That makes sense. Give them instruction in the subject matter, and then leave the execution to the students. And then give them a fair amount of autonomy along the way.
Friedman: Right. The assignment can be: Mash these two together.
Pink: And these kids get mash-ups.
Friedman: Oh they get mash ups. They do it naturally. And these days, he who mashes best will mash most, and be wealthiest.
And we’ll give Friedman the last word on imagination: “Your ability to act on your imagination is going to be so decisive in driving your future and the standard of living in your country. So the school, the state, the country that empowers, nurtures, enables imagination among its students and citizens, that’s who’s going to be the winner.”