Updated: Jun 26
“Innovation distinguishes between the leader and the follower”– Steve Jobs.
How many of you have a smart phone? Perhaps I should rephrase that question how many of you have an iPhone? Of all the innovation’s of the past decades, the iPhone, like the wheel and the printing press, which went before, has revolutionised our society. We are now constantly connected to the world wide web. For good or bad. Information is at out fingertips, and the iPhone, like some kind of information swiss army knife, has become essential to every day survival. Like wise in classrooms, the iPad, and the iPhone has become essential to illuminating learning.
I am writing about the iPhone, not for its virtues in revolutionising the modern classroom. but rather because it encapsulates everything that is ‘Right Learning’ and characterises the values of the ‘Right Learning Company’. Let me explain.
In Roger W. Sperry’s theory of two brains, he characterised the right side of the brain as being the side that is visual, emotional, creative and dealing in design. As a pose to the left side that deals in linear thinking, knowledge and cold hard facts. In his book a Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink, author of best-selling books on business and human behaviour, describes this as R-Directed/ L-Directed thinking. He argues that since the Industrial Revolution and the formalization of the worlds education systems, society has prioritized left brain thinking over that of the right.
This stands to reason as in the past all major western economies have been driven by heavy industry. Such Industries have to prioritse knowledge and cold hard facts, over the creativity of the arts. Functionality, and utility are the true drivers of heavy industry, not design and aesthetics. If we look at Wales as an example, the whole economy was driven primarily by 1 thing. Coal. Well, more specifically, anthracite the prefect coal for steam. How to extract this black gold, effectively and efficiently from the earth, was the key to swelling profit margins. The is no space for design, or aesthetics in the art of coal mining. Coal mining is, by its nature the epitome of L-Directed thinking. It is tough, it is brutal, it is bare logic with no room for empathy. There is very little ‘ blue sky thinking’ underground.
The iPhone in contrast is emblematic of the future of the economies of the west. And this new world will need a new and different approach to education, which has more time for the R-Directed thinking, that Daniel Pink alludes to. If you examine the back of any iPhone it will read:
“Designed by Apple California, Assembled in China”
Not as you would expect simply ‘Made in China’. But rather ‘Assembled in China’. This is very important distinction as it clearly delineates these two different types of thinking:
‘Designed (R-Directed thinking) in California’; ‘Assembled (L-Directed thinking) in China.’ If we look at the cost break down of the iPhone this distinction is further exemplified.
· Actual cost of the iPhone : $649.99 *
· Manufacturing cost. : $226.00 (to China)
· Design cost. :$423.99 (to California)
*Based on figures from 2016
Whilst many political leaders may be promising to bring back heavy industry. To make western economies great again through revitalised heavy industry, as the case of the iPhone demonstrates, is a fool’s errand. The future is actually in R-Directed thinking. The most successful products, are well designed. They are fun and have a story we buy into.
If we truly want to make our countries great. We have to really examine the education we are providing for our future generations. Our children will be working with technologies, not yet conceived; in jobs and possibly industries that have yet to be invented. Ask most primary school pupils what they want to be, and they will explain they dream of being a ‘YouTuber’, or an ‘influencer’. As a child I wanted to be an architect or play rugby for Wales, as a teacher I had to google what a ‘You Tuber’ actually was!
These future learners will have to be creative and innovative; have leadership skills, resilience, and be able to learn and re-learn through-out their career’s. Many will have more than 1 job in their lifetime. Careers, but not as we know them Jim! These Learners will have to have problem-solving skills, which enquire them to see the ‘big Picture’, after all these are the individuals that will have to unpick many of the mistakes from former generations.
Steve Jobs dreamed of putting a ‘ding’ in the universe. As educators we are going to have to rethink our schools and curriculums so that we can teach pupils how to put a ‘ding’ in the universe.
We at the RLC would like to do just this. If you would like us to help you re-think your schools’ curriculum and get ready for 2050 please get in touch. We can help you improve your teaching and learning, we can run sessions for you and your staff to consider what the new curriculum for wales might look like? What would a curriculum without content actually look like ?