5 Minds For The Future

2013 April 30

I recently read "5 Minds for the Future" (Gardner, Howard. 5 Minds for the Future. Harvard Business Review Press 2008 ) by Howard Gardner. This page is just my notes and outline of ideas I read.

I see it as 5 types of Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Attitudes that he feels are essential in order for someone to be productive, in demand, and enjoy life. He calls these things "minds". The 5 minds he identifies are

Education at Large

pg8: everyone needs to be a teacher and role model. Education needs to be lifelong

pg10: Due to vast changes in the world, educational practices should change. i.e. why memorize everything when you have google at your fingertips. Also need to decide where to focus on the 5 minds in education. Respect is up and coming in education. Can;t just focus on discipline knowledge. quote Winston Churchill: "The EMPIRES OF THE FUTURE WILL BE THE EMPIRES OF THE MIND".

pg12: assertions that most sciences are the same regardless of culture. There is only one mathematics, on biology,etc... technology maybe different in different cultures. technology does not have to have science behind it. but when it does, it advances. society today though must have science to advance its technology. So he asserts science/math are critical to students, but goes on about the limits...

pg 13:-14 emphasis on various other disciplines in addition to science/math: literature, history, economics, etc... Don't make the focus only science, even though science seems like the most imp, don;t make it the only!

pg 17: he believes current formal education prepares students for the world of the past and not the world of the future where everything is global (people, knowledge, capital, and information).


pg16:Individuals without one or more disciplines will not be able to succeed at any demanding workplace and will be restricted to menial tasks.

pg21: experienced students of a discipline and inexperienced students answer questions the same way! So what have those experienced students really studied? Many examples provided.

pg 22: "Thinking in a disciplinary manner". Humans didn't evolve with the purpose to understand the physical, biological worlds. Did not need that to survive.

pg25: The trivium and quadrivium which comprised the classical seven Liberal Arts

pg27: Starts getting into what is discipline, the difference between subject matter and discipline; a discipline has a distinctive way of looking at the world. "signature pedagogies of a profession". learning a discipline requires feedback/mentors.

So how do we develop disciplined mind? Begin at page 31. He believes that everyone at the PRE-COLLEGE LEVEL should be able to execute and think in the major disciplines of mathematics, science, history, and one art form. i.e. we should be able to think in the accepted ways that mathematicians, scientists, historians, an an artist thinks. Gardner really believes that a single person should master these?? He calls the "gateways" to all the other disciplines that someone may choose to specialize in for the life work.

pg 32. 4 steps to acquiring a disciplined mind:

  • Identify truly important topics within the discipline'
  • Spend a significant amount of time on it
  • Approach the topic in many different ways/viewpoints/angles,methods
  • use "Performance Understanding" under a variety of conditions. i.e. it is not about memorizing, it is about performing/thinking about a new subject using what you learned in the previous topic.

Pg 35: studies show folks that studied deeply often give the same answers as novices when they have a topic they did not specifically study before! There is an absence of disciplinary thinking.

memorizing is not discipline.

reflective practitioners

pg 41: need passion about the topic

Plato: " Through Education we need to help students find plkeasure in what they have to learn"

beware discipline can take on a pathological form...

two meanings of discipline: to master a craft and the capacity to renew that craft through regular application over the years.


pg6: managers need synthesis

pg16:Individuals without synthesizing capabilities will be over- whelmed by information and unable to make judicious decisions about personal or professional matters.

The Main Chapter here begins Chapter 3 page 45 The ability to knit together information from various sources into a coherent whole. How do we get the skill? How do we know who does it well?

Types of Synthesis with great descriptions:

  1. Narratives
  2. Taxonomies
  3. Complex Concepts
  4. Rules and Aphorisms
  5. Powerful metaphors, images, and themes
  6. Embodiments without words
  7. Theories
  8. Metatheory

All types of synthesis have these components: 1. A goal 2. A starting Point 3. Selection of strategy, method, and approach 4. Drafts and Feedback

Interdisciplinary synthesis is difficult, but when skilled folks can do it, good stuff. Three reasons for interdisciplinary synthesis.

Check out Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

Lumpers and Splitters

When we are young, we really want to find connections between new things and things we already know. This works well, but as you get older you loose that mind-set. It doesn't always work for complex ideas anyway; however, the mind set is still useful, how can we keep it?

Laser Intelligence / Search Light Intelligence

Aristotle deemed the capacity to create apt metaphors as a sign of genius.

We need role models of people who are good synthesizers,


pg 7: Leaders use creating

pg16:Individuals without creating capabilities will be replaces by computers and will drive away those who do have the creative spark.

Starts in depth on page 77 How do we mature creativity? Creativity in history was often not rewarded, often persecuted. pg 80: Creativity is the occasional emergent from the interaction of 3 autonomous elements:

  • The Individual
  • The cultural domain
  • The social field.

Know what is meant by domains and fields. Representatives of the field are the judges of what is good creativity. Creativity exists if it exerts a genuine detectable influence on subsequent work in the domain. So that is the test for creativity: has the domain been altered by your creation?

How are creators different from experts?

Creators aren't bothered by failure, they keep going keep trying.

creativity is peaking at a 5 year old! How do you maintain that childlike creativity into adulthood? 8 SHOW DIFFERENT EQUALLY VIABLE SOLUTIONS TO A SINGLE POSED PROBLEM. Lear to take and give criticism.

Creativity of groups is questionable, bit possible.

Neuro-, Geno-, Silicon how are we going to be creative with these.


pg8: all make efforts to seek common cause and trust regardless of differences

pg16:Individuals without respect will not be worthy of respect by others and will poison the workplace and the commons.

Page 106: Humans do have affinity for groups. But how to respect between groups?
More critical in the non-science math disciplines. Science/Math should be a universal language, but for example history may be subject to other interpretations.

parents,parents, parents, role models


pg8: really just a do unto others as you want them to do to you ?

pg16:Individuals without ethics will yield a world devoid of decent workers And responsible citizens none of us will want to live on the desolate planet.

ethical has to do with the discipline versus respect which is more individual.


He wraps it up well. Read the Chapter first and then the rest of the book. Or reread this when i need a refresher.