He’s an author, educational theorist, business guru, husband and father of two (did I mention he was a White House speechwriter for then Vice President Al Gore?). As I sat in the lobby of our conference hotel at the National Harbor near Washington, DC awaiting Dan Pink’s arrival, I confess to some apprehension mixed with a large dose of enthusiasm. Upon meeting him, I was impressed that he agreed to an impromptu video interview. Smart, energetic, confident and genuine are just several traits that he immediately conveyed. A little chit chat revealed that he had just returned from the West Coast, where he met with innovators at Google. He’s very well spoken, well traveled and well regarded by businesses big and small, as well as educational groups, leaders and so many others.
As a parent, I am very interested in his message about the importance of creativity – now more than ever. I want my daughter to be equipped for long-term success and for a life that is rich in terms of meaning and joy. He makes compelling arguments for the role of creativity in his books, which I was keen to discuss in greater detail. His books are both available in paperback and offer a wealth of wisdom: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future and DRIVE, which focuses on what really motivates us. Dan is a big believer that children need to develop right brain competencies in order to compete and thrive in the Conceptual Age, which is emerging from the social and economic forces of abundance, Asia and automation. It’s not enough for our kids to be able to use their left-brain logic and rootedness in order and hierarchy; they must also be able to pull from their intuitive right-brain the ability to find patterns, see the big picture, imagine possibilities, and draw upon feelings to express joy and meaning. Art, Dan contends, is not a “side dish; it’s a main course.” In A Whole New Mind, he writes: “Drawing is about seeing relationships – and then integrating those relationships into a whole.” We see examples all around us, such as the combination of engineering and artful design that results in a visually appealing, efficient automobile or the convergence of artistic design, story-telling and coding that produces an impressive video game.
Pulling an acronym from DRIVE, I asked Dan if he thinks schools are generally doing a good job “amping” our kids for success. In other words, do schools provide students with opportunities for Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose? To some degree, he thinks they are making progress, but all too often, schools are teaching to tests and fall short of inspiring purposeful learning. Mastery comes from engagement, which varies in effectiveness by teacher and curricular design. Again, art comes to the rescue, as it offers intrinsic motivation. Fast-forward and this same concept of AMP play an important role in workplaces today and in the future. He cited examples of how employees given the freedom to use their time as they choose innovate at a much greater pace.
For kids who learn to use both their left and right brains and as they become increasingly self-directed in their life long learning adventure, the future can be bright and wonder-filled. Dan concluded his interview with me saying, “This (art education) is an important part in the nutrition not only of your soul but of your brain.” He says “Abrakadoodle is doing something about it in a remarkable, powerful way.” Dan Pink is certainly an American original, and he provides us with some tasty food for thought. See the brief video excerpt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQWZH9xH_5U.