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Five Minds for the Future [Paperback]

Howard Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 6 2009
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.

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Psychologist, author and Harvard professor Gardner (Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons) has put together a thought-provoking, visionary attempt to delineate the kinds of mental abilities ("minds") that will be critical to success in a 21st century landscape of accelerating change and information overload. Gardner's five minds-disciplined, synthesizing, creating, respectful and ethical-are not personality types, but ways of thinking available to anyone who invests the time and effort to cultivate them: "how we should use our minds." In presenting his "values enterprise," Gardner uses a variety of explanatory models, from developmental psychology to group dynamics, demonstrating their utility not just for individual development, but for tangible success in a full range of human endeavors, including education, business, science, art, politics and engineering. A tall order for a single work, Gardner avoids overly-technical arguments as well as breezy generalizations, putting to fine use his twenty years experience as a cognitive science researcher, author and educator, and proving his world-class reputation well-earned. Though specialists might wish Gardner dug a bit more into the research, most readers will find the book lively and engaging, like the fascinating lectures of a seasoned, beloved prof.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

..."a thoughtful excursion in education and policy-making...interest to those who want to prepare themselves to succeed in the future." -- Globe and Mail, May 23, 2007 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Map for Educating the New Philosopher Kings July 17 2007
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The learned ancient Greeks were fascinated by what an ideal education would involve. Why? They hoped to apply that education to the kings of the era and to create a better society through the leadership of the kings. That ambition came closest to being fulfilled through Alexander the Great, who became a highly effective conqueror and spreader of Greek ideas and values.

Professor Gardner takes up this challenge once again in perceiving new challenges for modern people that will be more difficult to meet in the future. I suspect that his vision is, in part, aimed at the same goal as the ancient Greeks except as executed through the leaders and most prominent citizens of a republic employing democratic principles.

In a break from his prior focus on multiple intelligences, Five Minds for the Future emphasizes five methods of thinking that he hopes to see integrated into individuals. These methods of thinking are based on:

1. Mastering an important subject matter (such as history, math, or science) and staying up to date through application of the discipline's method of thinking. This is quite different from knowing the facts of the discipline.

2. Being able to integrate large quantities multidisciplinary facts and apply them into one's work.

3. Posing new questions, developing new solutions to existing questions, stretching disciplines and genres in new directions, or building new disciplines.

4. Being open to understanding and appreciating the perspectives and experiences of those who are different from the individual.

5. Doing one's work in an ethical way that reflects responsibilities to others and society.

What does this boil down to as a problem?
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I haven't completed the book yet, but the books opens the door to think differently about what we are capable of, especially in the matter of intentionality. I like how Gardner applies his thinking to current global issues and the need to arouse, educate and apply one or more of the 5 natural capabilities <mindfully> to move civilization forward!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
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.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  53 reviews
206 of 213 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On nurturing "potentials that are distinctly human" April 19 2007
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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 naïve 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.
88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not the answer, but a great map leading to the answer.... May 15 2007
By Jesse Kornbluth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In case you haven't noticed, the world is going through a seismic change. No one can say what the human experiment will look like on the other side, but I think we may reasonably conclude this --- the badly educated will suffer.

And by "suffer" I don't mean the old chart that shows you how much more a college graduate earns over the course of a lifetime than a high school grad.

In this new world, a college graduate who lacks what Howard Gardner calls "multiple intelligences" will be in the same boat as the high school dropout collecting an hourly wage at Jiffy Lube.

So a book that outlines the kind of smarts the future will require --- and reward --- automatically merits our attention. And we read more closely when the author is Howard Gardner, who has made a career of this subject at Harvard and collected a MacArthur Prize Fellowship along the way.

Who needs the "five minds" that Gardner discusses in this brief (167 pages), jargon-free book?

Well, you, for starters, because knowledge is expanding exponentially each year and if you are not actively engaged in some kind of lifelong learning, you are condemning yourself to the glue factory.

And, of course, your kids, because as sure as "the children are our future," they must learn to survive in a world far more demanding than ours.

So without conscious, continuing, multi-disciplinary education, it looks grim for you and your kids.

What "minds" does Gardner say you need to master?

1)The disciplined mind. Learn at least one discipline --- a ten-year process --- or you're "destined to march to someone else's tune."

2)The synthesizing mind. As information floods in, you need to connect, understand and evaluate information from disparate sources.

3)The creating mind. So you can break new ground.

4)The respectful mind. "Intolerance or disrespect is no longer an option."

5)The ethical mind. So you can work for more than self-interest and improve the quality of life for all.

Why these five and not others? Because, says Gardner, these minds are at a premium now. Their scarcity suggests they're likely to be even more highly prized in the future.

Wait a minute: Isn't our problem that we're falling behind in science and engineering? Shouldn't we be launching a national campaign in the province of hard data? Nope, Gardner says. That's "a trap into which many enthusiasts of globalization fall." And then --- how cool is this? --- he dismisses America's favorite guru, Thomas Friedman, in a phrase.

The well-rounded mind, the fully engaged life --- that's Gardner's grail. These are not new ideas. What's new is the notion that your personal survival depends on multi-disciplinary learning.

Gardner is a smart teacher. He tells stories, tosses off anecdotes, quotes Major Minds. He throws off ideas --- like, a society obsessed with creativity would be cutting its own throat: "History suggests that the 'hotter' the creative center, the more rapidly it is likely to spend or extinguish itself."

Gardner describes the contours of each mind, but there's a maddening quality to his book. You want it to be a "how to" guide. Instead, it's a call to action. I can easily understand why --- the country is in crisis, and a lot of that crisis has been deliberately manufactured by people motivated more by personal gain than societal good. You don't have to be a blogger to want to attack this culture; now we have an academic taking his turn.

If Gardner is short on specific answers, I do feel he's got the general picture: You need to know something about everything, the arts matter at least as much as the sciences, and doing right is a way to do well. To that, add one more idea: This broad, humanistic education is something you're going to have to do for yourself --- and something you're going to have to create for your kids.

Feel like taking a nap? Understandable. But consider what Gardner says is at stake.

Master only one discipline, and you and your kids "will not be able to succeed at any demanding workplace and will be restricted to menial tasks."

Don't learn to synthesize knowledge, and you and your kids will be "overwhelmed by information and unable to make judicious decisions about personal or professional matters."

Don't maximize your creative capabilities, and you and your kids will be "replaced by computers."

Don't learn respect for others, and you and your kids won't be worthy of others' respect --- in fact, you will "poison the workplace and the commons."

Don't live ethically, and you and your kids will help to create a planet you won't want to live on.

Okay, so Gardner's heavy-handed. Maybe that's what it takes to get Americans to understand that no one is going to rescue us, no public program will prepare our kids for life. You can do worse than read this book --- and then begin the process of saving your loved ones and yourself.
83 of 89 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is not a business book but can be helpful to leaders looking to understand the mosaic of minds required to be successful. Nov. 4 2007
By Mark P. McDonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I will admit it; I chose this book by its title as I was looking for some insight into the types of skills required of the next generation. Five minds for the future (FMFTF) projects the observation that there are five types of intelligence or Minds out there. This observation and the classification of these types of intelligence is Gardner's claim to fame. The types are:

The Disciplined Mind - one that knows something and has mastery over a subject. Such mastery takes 10 years to develop. Here Gardner separates rote knowledge with being able to think deeply about what you are doing. This is a great point and one that more executives need to take into account as it is a major difference between people who are good individual contributors and those that make great managers. Gardner believes that the disciplines worth learning are by in large academic in nature, paying little attention to other disciplines or types of acquired knowledge.

The Synthesizing Mind -- one who knows how to sort through information, identify seminaries and trends and produce a big picture? Gardner points out that this skill is becoming more important given the flood of information and conflicting information that is the status quo of a modern connected society.

The Creating Mind -- one who is able to generate new things, see from new perspectives and formulation new ideas. Here represents a reversal and a revolution as creativity was often suppressed in the past and reinforced with rote learning etc. Now Gardner points out that creativity is key to individual and societal survival. He also points out that it is possible to create creativity in individual - this is a significant departure from other work that believes creativity is an inherent rather than learned trait.

The Respectful Mind -- one who is tolerant of differences and respects the ideas, opinions and values of others rather than thinking of them in terms of stereotypes etc. We need a mind that is able to get along with all of the diverse groups in global society. This mind should have been named the tolerant mind as that is the form of respect that Gardner discusses as being required because conflict now poses the possibility of destroying the planet.

The Ethical Mind -- one who views their role at work and as a citizen, acts consistently with that and strives toward good work and good citizenship. Here Gardner talks about his research into `good work' or those that do 'good' in difficult situations. It is interesting that this discussion recognizes but gives little credit to other institutions that support ethical behavior such as religion.

Gardner's contention is that the five minds are not mutually exclusive of each other and in fact one mind may be strengthened by the other. The book also goes into a light discussion of the genesis and development of each type of mind. While I have not issue with these different types of intelligence, this is where Gardner's book goes off the track for me.

Many of the prior reviews give great praise to the book in terms of its basis for education. This makes sense as Gardner is an educator and education, development specialist. Unfortunately from this reader's perspective one of the more elitist people I have read in a long time. Gardner's book is rooted in the Western tradition of secular humanism that pays limited attention to skills and knowledge not developed in the western tradition, nor gives credit to other institutions besides educational ones.

Overall I walked away informed but disappointed. As a business reader looking to understand the types of intelligence we need to build on our teams, Gardner's work on discipline, synthesis and creativity were most helpful. In discussion the other two minds, Gardner seems more preachy, less accurate and narrow in his thinking and definitions that I expected from picking the book up. I was looking for tools I could use and found none.

He has recommendations, particularly in terms of recommendations for the education system. For example, create respect by putting students into different groups, foster creativity through supporting exploration and allowing discussion, etc. His business based references are particularly thin, offering the names of companies or individuals as proof of his point (e.g.: talk about creativity and mention Jack Welch) I had expected more since the book was published by Harvard Business School Press. I was looking for a business book, not one predominantly about education policy and approach.

This is not a business book but can be helpful to leaders looking to understand the mosaic of minds required to be successful. This is an education policy book which is fine, but the book provides limited bridging to be of great value to business organizations. One can see how educators would be drawn to its messages as the education system is hailed as the bastion and protector of society and culture. However, Gardner's scant attention to other institutions such as business, the corporation, religion, etc weakens his arguments.

Gardner points out that the current education system is failing and the world is changing so fast as to require a radical revolution. I believe that this is true but there is more to society than one institution (academia) and there was more I was looking for in this book that I did not find.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A difficult read June 7 2007
By GL Gee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After reading an excellent review prior to purchase the book disappoints as it is written at a level that would appeal mainly to academics. One needs to sift through a heap of difficult reading to get to the few gems that the author reveals. It is clearly obvious that the author is an incredibly gifted researcher but the material doesn't 'reach' the average reader who I believe should be the target for the book. Academically excellent but fails to meet the target audience
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Minds for the Technology Professional April 22 2008
By Bruce Pharr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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.
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