Sunday, August 5, 2007

Design as a 21st Century Skill

On Friday August 3rd Daniel Pink was the keynote at the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) Conference in Breckenridge, Colorado. If you are not familiar with Daniel Pink, he is a former Gore speech writer that has taken up writing business books. His most recent book, A Whole New Mind, argues that left-brained skills such as analysis that were favored in the 20th Century are no longer sufficient to be successful in the expanding global economy. Jobs that include automation (or routine) can easily be outsourced for cost savings. The jobs of the future will require a worked that has left-brained analytic skills and right-brained skills like: design, symphony, empathy, play, story, and meaning.

Photo Credit

During the keynote address CASE had several live "bloggers" posted at the front of the room and members of the audience were also invited to join the discussion. If you read the discussion you will see that folks are responding to Daniel Pink, interacting with each other, and asking questions...all live. CASE actually convinced Mr. Pink to stop halfway through the talk and respond to the discussion on the "blog". This was an exciting moment of interactivity. I applaud Dan Maas (CASE President and Littleton PS IT Director) for setting this up, Daniel Pink for taking the risk, and everyone who participated live. I look forward to the day when people from outside the room are joining the people in the discussion. Truly, the power of this new social web resides in global connectivity and communication.

If you review the transcript you will find reference to Adams County School District 14 building a new high school. The comment asks whether our high school will be better designed than a Starbucks. I assume the comment was not intended to be insulting or even tongue in cheek. In fact, in Pink's talk he emphasized the importance of design and implored us to ensure that our schools of the future are better designed than a Starbucks. In the context of school design does form follow function? If so, what is the function of a 21st Century American high school?

How should schools and curriculum change to accommodate these new right-brain skills?


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the kind words and such a wonderful posting! Clearly not all the participants during the event were new to this. Your blog is outstanding!

I also appreciated the comment about having the discussion extend outside the room. I too have that hope and perhaps you'll keep an eye on CASE for just such an opportunity this year.

Keep up the great work

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry, I was having trouble remembering my blogger account name... the previous post was mine [;-)

-Dan Maas

Joseph Miller said...


Thanks for the comments. We in Colorado are taking a lot of direction from your leadership at CASE. Even if what is happening may seem foreign to some, it is the real world to our students.