Sunday, January 8, 2012

Shift #3: Cultivate the 5 Minds

Wordle: 5 Minds
In reading Chapter 1 of 21st  Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn, Ann and I were introduced to Gardner’s 5 Minds for the Future.  We were inspired by the depth of each mind, so much so that I had to purchase his book (2008).  But we did need time to process and find relevance in Gardner’s words in the lives of our students and our own selves.  Then when Ann and I began our mind-shift reflections we went back to reread, immediately calling each other with many AH-HAs that excited us.  We began to see how the 5 Minds fit into education, our multiage program, and our personalized learning approach, as well as our own lives.

Gardner (2010) begins the chapter with discussing the trends in education, which he refers to as the times when “fundamental changes” occurred (p.9). During the classical period writing became common, and then print transpired during the Renaissance.  The 19th  century grew to become the one-room school house era.   Then in the 20th  century began the commitment to educate all children, giving an equal opportunity to all. Now Gardner predicts the beginning of the 21st century, the moment in time we are currently in, as a time in which dramatic changes within education must occur.  “Intimately and inextricably connected to others, we need to be able to communicate with one another, live with one another, and where possible, make common cause” (Gardner, 2010, p. 10).

As educators, we have understood these monumental changes within the educational system, although now is the time to recognize we are facing the responsibility of altering the practice of teaching and learning as we currently know it.  Our world is dynamically changing and it is up to us to pave a path into the future that will prepare students for THEIR success in a world we cannot even predict.  We do know, however, it is no longer the world in which we grew up in, as resources and connectivity have radically increased.  Thus, technology’s affect on the world is changing our practice, which cannot continue to remain the same as it even did five years ago. We are in an era in which we must become comfortable with changing our practice every few years, not century to century or even decade to decade.

 But in the midst of these required changes, a variety of ideas, protocols, practices, systems, and beliefs have been introduced, examined, and discussed since the turn of the century.  As time is of the essence, how do we know which suggestions, principles and strategies will work? How do you choose which path to follow?  Where should we focus our energy? 

Engaging in Gardner’s Literature on this topic quickly inspires one to believe that the future will require one to possess a Disciplined Mind, a Synthesizing Mind, a Creating Mind, a Respectful Mind, and an Ethical Mind, especially in correlation to the 21st Century Skills.  Regardless of time intentionally spent cultivating these minds within a home, school, or classroom environment, the children themselves must believe that the minds are worthy of their time and energy to develop.  But isn’t that true with all things?  Make them believe.  Provide them with a buy-in.  Allow them to understand the relevancy.  When you empower students by connecting the information or strategy to their personal lives, they will rise to the occasion and appreciate the knowledge and opportunities they have been provided.

The 5 minds of the future is another theory that Ann and I added to our list of “MUSTS” within our philosophical framework.   But even Gardner (2010) articulates that, “Even if one believes that all five of these minds ought to be cultivated, many questions remain about how best to accomplish this goal” (p. 29).  So that is where we had left off weeks ago… How do we incorporate these 5 Minds into our classroom? How do we instill the importance of the minds upon our students?  How do we explain their purpose in connection to their future?  Our plan of action has been sketched and will be posted soon…


Gardner, H.  (2008).  5 minds for the future.  Boston, MA:  Harvard Business Press.

Gardner, H. (2010). Five minds for the future. In J. Bellanca & R. Brandt (Eds.), 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn (pp. 8-31).  Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

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