Five Minds for the Future

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We live in a time of relentless change. The only thing that?s certain is that new challenges and opportunities will emerge that are virtually unimaginable today. How can we know which skills will be required to succeed?

In Five Minds for the Future, bestselling author Howard Gardner shows how we will each need to master "five minds" that the fast-paced future will demand:

-The disciplined mind, to learn at least one profession, as well as the major thinking (science, math, history, etc.) behind it

-The synthesizing mind, to organize the massive amounts of information and communicate effectively to others

-The creating mind, to revel in unasked questions - and uncover new phenomena and insightful apt answers

-The respectful mind, to appreciate the differences between human beings - and understand and work with all persons

-The ethical mind, to fulfill one's responsibilities as both a worker and a citizen

Without these "minds," we risk being overwhelmed by information, unable to succeed in the workplace, and incapable of the judgment needed to thrive both personally and professionally.

Complete with a substantial new introduction, Five Minds for the Future provides valuable tools for those looking ahead to the next generation of leaders - and for all of us striving to excel in a complex world.

Howard Gardner - cited by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the one hundred most influential public intellectuals in the world, and a MacArthur Fellowship recipient - is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Customer Reviews:

  • On nurturing "potentials that are distinctly human"

    I have read and reviewed all of Howard Gardner's previous books and consider this, his latest, to be the most valuable thus far. In it, he identifies and explains five separate but related combinations of cognitive abilities that are needed to "thrive in the world during eras to come...[cognitive abilities] which we should develop in the future." Gardner refers to them as "minds" but they are really mindsets. Mastery of each enables a person:

    1. to know how to work steadily over time to improve skill and understanding;

    2. to take information from disparate sources and make sense of it by understanding and evaluating that information objectively;

    3. by building on discipline and synthesis, to break new ground;

    4. by "recognizing that nowadays one can no longer remain within one's shell or one's home territory," to note and welcome differences between human individuals and between human groups so as to understand them and work effectively with them;

    5. and finally, "proceeding on a level more abstract than the respectful mind," to reflect on the nature of one's work and the needs and desires of the society in which one lives.

    Gardner notes that the five "minds" he examines in this book are different from the eight or nine human intelligences that he examines in his earlier works. "Rather than being distinct computational capabilities, they are better thought of as broad uses of the mind that we can cultivate at school, in professions, or at the workplace."

    The "future" to which the title of this book refers is the future that awaits each of us. That is, Gardner is not a futurist in the sense that others such as Ossip K. Flechteim, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Dennis Gabor, Alvin Toffler, and Peter Schwartz are. If I understand Gardner's ultimate objective (and I may not), his hope is to help as many people as possible -- regardless of their age, gender, and circumstances -- to cultivate their minds by taking full advantage of any and every opportunity available to them; moreover, to do all they can to enrich and then sustain the same process of cultivation initiated by others.

    He concludes his book as follows: "Perhaps members of the human species will not be prescient enough to survive, or perhaps it will take far more immediate threats to our survival before we can make common with our fellow human beings. In any event the survival and thriving of our species will depend on our nurturing of potentials that are distinctly human." Some may view these comments as being na?ve but I do not. On the contrary, I view them as an eloquent assertion of what is imperative, yes, but also as a sincere affirmation of what is possible. ...more info
  • Five Minds for the Technology Professional
    Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is a psychologist and author known for his theory of multiple intelligences. Application of his theory, especially for education, has been controversial. But I think his latest book, Five Minds for the Future, is a must read for technology professionals.

    His thesis is that, "...vast changes that include accelerating globalization, mounting quantities of information, the growing hegemony of science and technology, and the clash of civilizations," requires, "capabilities that, until now, have been mere options." He describes "Five Minds," or cognitive abilities that will command a premium in the years ahead:

    1. The Disciplinary Mind -- the mastery of major schools of thought (including science, mathematics, and history) and of at least one professional craft.

    2. The Synthesizing Mind -- the ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines or spheres into a coherent whole and to communicate that integration to others.

    3. The Creating Mind -- the capacity to uncover and clarify new problems, questions and phenomena.

    4. The Respectful Mind -- awareness of and appreciation for differences among human beings and human groups.

    5. The Ethical Mind -- fulfillment of one's responsibilities as a worker and as a citizen.

    While the book is not directed specifically at technology professionals, I found much of what he said echoed characteristics of the most effective people I know: deep domain expertise, intellectual curiosity, creativity, global perspective, knowledge of and respect for diverse cultures, and teamwork. It is and will continue to be possible for anyone with a few of these characteristics to succeed in technology, but I believe those who excel and assume positions of leadership will exhibit all of these abilities....more info
  • Five Minds for the Future
    The author gives his excellent perception of today's requirements for good functioning in the world....more info
  • outstanding book
    This book by Gardner is one of the most important about education and personal development.The concepts are new and well described.A book worth reading and rereading....more info
  • Visionary
    Dr. Gardner is a visionary. His recommendations will lead us into the 21st century through a perception that applies to all aspects of our lives....more info
  • VITAL. "Ref A" for the Future. A Nobel-Level Contribution
    I am deeply impressed by this book, not least because it is presented in a very clean and easy to read and absorb form. My first note on this book says "Ref A: VITAL to the 'long war.' He NAILS it. THIS is the future if we can simply absorb his wisdom."

    I especially appreciate the author's early emphasis on how this book, his work, is a "values enterprise." He pays dues regard to E. O. Wilson, whose book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge answered the question "why do the sciences need the humanities," and whose later work, The Future of Life helped me conceptualize the need for an Earth Intelligence Network, a non-profit that will create both the EarthGame (trademarked by Medard Gabel) and the World Brain online.

    This book focuses on five different uses of the mind, not different minds. It is an interdisciplinary work, bridging across the sciences and the humanities--indeed, multidisciplinary might be a better term

    The five minds, with a few notes (there is NO substitute for reading the book in full) are:

    1. Disciplined Mind. Incremental mastery over time, at least ten years, of a proven process for discovery and analysis.

    2. Synethsizing Mind. Handles information overload. No standards yet, a DNA spiral of multi-disciplinary perspectives whose diversity is accepted and then integrated. Includes narratives, taxonomies, complex concepts, rules & aphorisms (I had to look the later up: distinctions concisely stated), metaphores, images, and themes, as well as embodiment without words, theories, and metatheories.

    3. Creating Mind. Breaks new ground ahead of the artificial intelligence of automation. Influences both individuals and groups, stems from both individuals and groups.

    4. Respectful Mind. Brokers differences, applies primarily to the arts and group interaction. This is best manifest in the Native American tradition of passing the talking stick and not ending a dialogue until *everyone* agreed with the outcome.

    5. Ethical Mind. Beyond the self, understands the value to the group of ethical behavior (a Nobel Prize was awarded in the 1990's for a person who demonstrated that trust lowers the cost of doing business; now we are finding that ethical revelation of the "true cost" of goods and services against the Earth will allow us to create infinite wealth and sustainable peace by eliminating the fraud, waste, and abuse characteristic of many governments and corporations.

    The author offers across the book a clear link between these five uses of the mind, and the need to revisit education in the large (see also online, Derek Bok on "Reinventing Education" and Robert Steele on "Reinventing Intelligence," in Forbes ASAP. He states that we MUST revitalize education because:

    01 What we are doing now is not working.
    02 World conditions are changing fast (I forget which book, but was most impressed to learn that changes to the Earth that uses to take ten thousand years now take three--we need real-time science IMMEDIATELY, because the UN now says we have only seven years in which to stop the growth of emissions).
    03 Science converted into tecehnology without values is dangerous.
    04 Desperate need for continuing education. I totally agree, and go further; we need to end competitive rote education, teach team learning, and test all professions at least every two years, with continuing education being mandatory.

    The author, although he presented the five minds in a different order, concludes that they should be taught from infancy in this order:

    01 Respectful Mind.
    02 Disciplined Mind.
    03 Synthesizing Mind.
    04 Ethical Mind.

    I am inclined to believe that Ethical Mind needs to be second. If people can see the value of team learning and the greater value of the commons when shared, then their displined mind will take a different path.

    I like this book so much I am adding it to my CEO reading list (on Amazon, the list is called Collective and Commercial Intelligence).

    None of us can read all books, but this is one book that I am also inclined to add to my "Top Ten Books of All Time." This book is the roadmap for saving the planet by recognizing, as Thomas Jefferson did, that "A Nation's best defense is an educated citizenry," and that in this day of extremism and fundamentalism, we have our work cut out for us. It will be easier if our next President has adopted this book as part of our roadmap back to civilization, morality, and sanity.

    Some other books I noted in relation to this one:
    Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace
    Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
    Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World
    Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
    Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
    Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives
    The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
    ...more info
  • Smart and Complex
    Summarizing the history of learning methods and techniques, this read is a complex one, with the purpose of renovating the way we think and prepare our minds for the real life....more info
  • Not for the average reader
    There is no doubt that Howard Gardner is highly intelligent and a deep thinker. He has done a considerable amount of research, study, contemplation and reflection on what sort of thinking will be necessary for the future of man. It does not take much study or research to come to the conclusion that our current lifestyle is not sustainable. But as noble an effort as Gardner has undertaken, he did not write this book for the average reader. In fact, his style of writing almost guarantees that the average reader will not put it on their reading list.

    I picked one page at random and typed it into a word processing program and then had the program measure the readability using the Flesch readability scale. That page scored a 29%. For the average reader to comprehend what they are reading, it should score above 60%. This style of writing, with the long and often complex sentence structure makes for slow reading.

    Gardner, like most highly educated professors, writes in the language that his peers will understand and accept. Unfortunately, the average person will spend too much time looking up obscure words or simply give up.

    I believe Gardner is correct in that our educational policy is doing a poor job at present and unless some changes are made will fall farther behind in the task of developing students who are capable of developing the five minds of the future.

    The five minds which Gardner advances are: the disciplined mind, the synthesizing mind, the creative mind, the respectful mind and the ethical mind. He does a good job of pointing out the recent cost to society of failure to develop and maintain disciplined and ethical mind in business. He cites the examples of Enron and Arthur Andersen.

    There is no doubt that the message is vitally important. My problem with the book is not the value of the content but what I see as the failure to communicate in a way that will make the ideas and information useful to a larger audience.
    ...more info


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