The Current Age

posted Mar 12, 2013, 8:44 PM by Dawn Gernhardt

The Current Age requires the use of “logic and analysis” and “rewards test-takers for zeroing-in, computer-like, on a single correct answer” or effect, or outcome, or process.

The Current Age requires its citizens to expect to have it all. There is process, efficiency, and an “abundance of material goods,” and but there is also “the pursuit of purpose, beauty, and meaning” (p. 35) happening at the same time.

The Current Age is reflected in my teaching when I, sadly, help perpetuate the “SAT-ocracy” where “access to the good life depends on the ability to reason logically, sequentially, and speedily” (p. 29). I wonder how we’ll keep SATs and performance and standardized testing, and integrate the R-Directed Thinking more into our schools. Is the common core the answer?

The Current Age is also reflected in my teaching when I bring big ideas, deeper meaning, and reflection in my lessons and activities. I help bring students towards their quest for self-realization.

I used the three-column organizer below to record and analyze four quotes from the reading.

Quote and page # from the text

What it means

Connection (this reminds me of…)

Question (I wonder…)

Confusion (I don’t understand…)

1 “Abundance, Asia, and Automation” p. 28 to 47

A disposable, consumer-based economy whose success is rated by how much consumers spend and causes great pollution, waste, e-waste, unfair wages to overseas workers, loss of jobs in the United States, cheap products that are produced to be replace, made as cheaply as possible without concern for the labor force breathing in the chemicals, or the people who use products made. Everything has to be repeatable to succeed. Lower cost

When I read this chapter and the title, the first thing I thought of is a documentary called Manufactured Landscapes, and the concept that was popular in the 2000s called six-sigma (both relating to large-scale production environments). However, they are opposite. Manufactured Landscapes artistically shows the manufactured landscape with a less than desirable effect.  Six-sigma is a process and theory for people to learn from and adopt for their environments.

2 “Manichean”  pg. 51

Someone who seems to have created the idea of “individuals being either left-brained and extinct or right-brained and ecstatic.”

Who is this? What is the context? A novelist, theorist, philosopher?

3 “From the Agriculture Age to the Conceptual Age” pg. 49

A great visual that depicts how the United States progressed along into new eras every century.

Reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. It makes sense. Some agriculturally dominated (Russia I think during WWI, before their industrial revolution, were still in the agricultural age. It wasn’t until they transitioned to the industrial, then information ages, that they could reach the conceptual—as a society. The same goes for all developed and lesser developed countries. How long it takes for countries (and people, too) to move along the axis and towards progress, varies greatly by dates and times. Some still remain in the Agricultural age, like in rural areas of some countries.

4 “education of the heart” p. 53

New concept for education in Japan where students reflect on the “meaning and mission of their lives.”

I love this concept.

5 “Rainbow Project” p. 58

Developed to test EQ on SAT, as well.

Wow. I want to know more about this.

6. “Routine functions are increasingly being turned over to machines” (p. 44).

“engineers, programmers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and virtually all careers could be and really are at risk of being outsourced or computerized.”

America has become a big sleepy giant that isn’t changing to keep pace with the world. We as teachers need to provide our students with the means to be relevant in the world. R-directed thinking helps us add value, provide more complex solutions, create narratives, look at the big picture “holistically”, provide empathy and aptitudes that computers or others cannot do better, cheaper or faster.

7. “The aim was also to use design to teach core academic subjects” (p. 71).

Charter High School for Architecture (CHAD) has courses that match design with all the core subjects and includes hands-on building projects. “Students learn to bring disparate things together to a solution” (p. 72).

Reminds me of STEM schools, with the added strategy that “design in its simplest form is the activity of creating solutions.” Helping students of today learn how to stay relevant and learn to create or recreate a space and make it “more pleasant and more beautiful” (p.77). If we can’t “compete with the pricing structure and labor costs of the Far East, we can compete with design.” And “constantly create new innovations” “that the world didn’t know it was missing” (p. 81).

8. “We are our stories” (p. 115)

Our narratives, the narratives (or what used to be called “branding”) of companies and everyone around us matter. Greater empathy and keeping the beauty, thoughts, and feelings “parallel” with the “quantitative” and factual information is essential. 

This reminds me also that story is just that, a story. I can be empty and meaningless. We provide all the meaning to the story. And, that meaning could be different. It’s how we choose to define it. If you tell your story over and over again, it’s just that, a story. We can create or design better stories. Better lives. Stories are important, but it’s important to let them be the past and not dictate our future.


 Source:Abundance, Asia, and Automation,” “Story,” and “Design” in Daniel Pink’s, A Whole New Mind