Preparing minds: Empires of the future

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TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

“We must immediately expand our vision beyond standard educational institutions. In our cultures of today – and of tomorrow – parents, peers, and media play roles at least as significant as do authorized teachers and formal schools…if any cliché of recent years ring true, it is the acknowledgment that learning must be lifelong.”
– Howard Gardner

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THE future is unpredictable. The tremendous advance in this century’s technology and onward, not “incremental but exponential”is what makes the future unpredictable… “thecurve is incredibly steep and the change is incredibly quick.”<www.tomorrowfair.com/fast-changing-technology-makes-future-unpredictable/>. We will continuously be deluged with information through the various forms of media. Some news will be fake, as we do experience at present. With so many forms of media, we seldom read the hard copies. We simply glance at the headlines, or if a headline catches our fancy, we breeze through the whole material or settle our eyes on lines that catch our divided attention.

What to do with information? A flood of information, both staid and novel, surrounds us.Also, we find increasing quantification of social life. Is it because, “Processes of measurement constitute the very core of modernization”? <https://www.ntnu.edu/sosant/cuff/the-project>.Even values are measured. Web sources translate people’s happiness into metrics— the economics of their well-being. The 2017 World Happiness Report(the fifth since 2012) says that “…governments, organizations and civil society increasingly use happiness indicators to inform their policy-making decisions.”<http://worldhappiness.report/>. It seems everything is turning to numbers. What mental processes drew out the metrics to quantify happiness?

The disciplined mind. It doesn’t need discovering a new planet to say that one thinks scientifically. Deep thinking can be applied in ordinary everyday life. When we do our laundry, we may like to know what can make stains disappear. Or seeing an anthill, we note that ants can carry on their back a whole grain of rice, much heavier than their bodies.This kindles our curiosity.We don’t stop thinking; we test our thinking, refute our arguments. Having had science in school, wehad experience in scientific thinking.Gardner says we need a disciplined mind.So we refer to the discipline of physical science, chemistry, to find out what makesZonrox remove stains. We leaf through biophysics on the anatomy of ants. We learn that their body mass (mass of muscles) is much larger in size than their bodies; hence they are able to lift weights many times heavier than their own bodyweight.Once we get the answer, we don’t stop there. We seek more evidence and test it. What kind of stains can Zonrox not remove? And why? Do all ants have body mass heavier than their weight?Scientific investigations make us explore.Theseoften lead “inunexpected directions and lack tidy endpoints. Nevertheless, these ways of thinking illuminate the world around us in ways that are often useful and always fascinating,
revealing the inner workings of our everydayexperiences — whether a mere walk past a garden (seeing an anthill), amoonlit night, or just doing a load of laundry.”<http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/ thinkscience>.“A discipline constitutes a distinctiveway of thinking about the world.” We teachers “should help our students acquire the habit of these disciplines’ specificways of thinking. They need “to understand information not as an end initself or a stepping stone tomoreadvanced information, but rather as a means to better-informed practice.”

The synthesizing mind. Asynthesizing mind can shift througha mirage ofideas and is able to distinguish elements to infer relationships which render a new meaning. Gardner refers to this mind as a synthesizing mind that can interpret emerging connections among disparate bits and pieces.Such a mind can managealigning elements from a mix of disciplines— medicine with law, commerce with medicine, governance with economics, music with mathematics, management with the universal law on equilibrium—and other bedfellows though seemingly alien from each other.

The creative mind. Acreative mind is able to see underneath a heap of unrelated information and eke out from these some novel realization that would impact on our lives—whether such be in a discipline, in our career or in our personal lives. This mind discards “from among the information generated”and integrates or connects “disparate pieces of information into a new idea.” This is the creative mind—a mind that arrives at an understanding of a new idea. <open.lib.umn.edu/infostrategies/…/lesson-11-research-skill-managing-and-synthesizing…>

The respectful and the ethical mind. However, while the mind of the future thinksdeeply, and broadly and creates new meaning,Gardner reminds us to welcome and respect differences “between and among human groups; to seek to work effectively with them.”<https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/multiple-intelligences-decisions-ethics/>.Working together,we strip ourselves of self-interest. We offer ourselves in service to society.
How does one prepare for professional and personal success? Given that technology advances exponentially, one cannot be very sure of the future. So quickly, suddenly our lives change. For instance, employees in call centers today may soon be displaced by robots. Hence, “cultivating (one’s) mind is more important than anything else (one) can do to prepare for personal and professional success.” “The only way to get ready for what comes next is to create the mental infrastructure to thrive in any environment.”<http://selfmadescholar.com/b/2009/07/15/5-minds-for-the-future-cultivating-thinking-skills/>.AsWinston Churchill said, “The empiresof the future will be empires of the mind.”<www.bmmagazine.co.uk ›

Email: ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph

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