By: Daniel Pink

As more people develop a a design sensibility, we'll increasingly be able to deploy design for its ultimate purpose: changing the world.

That was the statement that most resonated with me from this book. Its a powerful thought and a challenge to art educators, as we consider how to prepare students for the "real world".

Here is how he supports that statement: he discusses design as the meaning that is added to the function. His example - the toaster. The toaster spends about 1% of its existence in its functional role - making toast. It spends the other 99% of its existence in its design role- looking nice in your kitchen. Design, therefore drives economy. Design changes history- had the "butterfly ballot" in Palm Beach County, Florida been designed better, residents would not have mistakenly voted en-masse for Pat Buchanan over Al Gore, affecting the entire future of the country. Design is how we shape the world, and how we give meaning to our lives, as Pink describes it "To be a designer is to be an agent of change".

What an amazing challenge for art education.

Pink's book serves as a road map for educating students in the 21st century. At the end of the information age, the need for rote memorization and fact recall becomes less important. The internet brings facts instantly to our fingertips. Now, in what Pink refers to as the dawn of the Conceptual age the ability to synthesize information is the key to success as we prepare students for both business and in life.

Pink describes six aptitudes that are necessary for this synthesis, and for surviving in the conceptual age. Here's the 'cliff notes' version:

Design: The ability to create something that is beautiful and meaningful.
Story: The ability to communicate and become self-aware.
Symphony: The ability to see the big picture.
Empathy: The ability to understand others.
Play: The ability to engage humor and balance seriousness.
Meaning: The ability to pursue purpose.

Of course, that quick description doesn't do his thesis any justice. I may be preaching to the converted, but Pink's book is a must read for all educators, especially art educators.


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