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The Beautiful 21st Century Mind

I spent more than 25 years in school trying to learn, to develop my mind. I had an extraordinary professor, Jerry, in graduate school. Good thing Jerry had tenure. He had a tendency to infuriate his students, irritate his colleagues, and often eschewed consulting work (frowned upon in most business schools). He was a real character. But I learned more from him about learning than anybody else in my 25 years of being in school. Jerry believed in not teaching, just learning. Read his infamous article, Learning to Not Teach. It will get you thinking.

People who study how people learn, cognition researchers, are worried. Our educational system is not developing and preparing today’s young adults for the work and leadership challenges of the 21st century. That’s why Howard Gardner’s new book, Five Minds for the Future, is a good start for developing a beautiful 21st century mind.

How should we train ourselves to think, to correctly learn about the world? According to Gardner, we need to push the mind, to have depth (discipline), breadth (synthesize) and to stretch (creative) while cultivating a respectful and ethical mind ...

Disciplined mind: You’ll be asked to learn new technologies and methods, new content, new ways to work throughout your life. Having a disciplined mind will facilitate lifelong learning.

Synthesizing mind: Making connections, seeing cause-and-effect relationships, making sense of the data smog requires a mind that can turn information into intelligence.

Creative mind: Researchers don’t understand how people learn to be creative. However, they do know that being creative will continue to be important. Learning to be original, productive, imaginative will get you a creative mind.

Respectful mind: Society, your family, the work world all function because of trust. Respect is needed to have trusted relationships. If you don’t respect others, you will have a hard time working with them.

Ethical mind: Working from right ideas, a code of professional conduct, not just from personal advantage.

You will have a beautiful 21st century mind if you commit to lifelong learning, to building your human capital (your mind, talents, skills, judgments) over your life span. It will prepare you to see opportunities and capitalize on them.

Learn how to push your mind to develop. Find a Jerry to help you train your mind.