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Kelsi Brosnahan

Conceptual Age Senses

Curriculum 8740
June 22, 2016

Kelsi Brosnahan
June 22, 2016
Curriculum 8740

We are currently living in the conceptual age. This is made apparent in A Whole New
Mind by Daniel Pink. Our world has been evolving into the age where the big thinkers and
meaning makers become the movers and shakers of our culture. Our culture has been stuck in the
post-industrial way of thinking and educating, we have been teaching with the left side (formal
analysis) of the brain and not using the right side (bigger picture). In the Conceptual Age, we
will need to complement our L-Directed reasoning by mastering six essential R-Directed
aptitudes. (Pink, 2005, p.65) These six essential right brain aptitudes that Pink is referring to is:
design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. Each of these senses play an important
role in creating a harmonious skill development that is needed for the future. I will be looking
deeper into the sense of story and how this can be utilized in todays curricula.
Story is the innate sense that all human beings have buried down in their subconscious to
create a common narrative to connect to and explain the world around them. Our students
are learning and connecting through their stories that they want to tell, no matter
how trivial their stories may seem. When they feel like their stories have something
to tell they are creating this deeper meaning for themselves through using high
concept and high touch. High concept is when it sharpens our understanding of
one thing by showing it in the context of something else. (Pink, 2005, pg. 103) High
touch is when a story packs an emotional punch. They are able to expand their
knowledge base so much more when they cognitively recollecting on events and
creating connections. Story is such a huge factor in understanding our visual culture
for this reason. In Freedmans book she discusses how visual culture becomes
the study of heritage and identity. (Freedman, 2003, p. 48) Our culture is nothing
but story. This is what we are building our knowledge off of, these experiences that

Kelsi Brosnahan
June 22, 2016
Curriculum 8740
are stories from own lives and those around us. Students, especially young ones,
have so many stories to tell and they are creating scaffolding for their knowledge
base of the world around them without even realize that they are doing it. Imagine
what they can do if we can teach them how to direct their sense of story into a
An interesting point that Pink talks about is how there are never truly any
new stories, just the same ones being retold or being experienced differently. This is
a captivating idea to process. Joseph Campbell is a mythologist that has studied
myths across time and cultures and has found that all of the myths, fables, legends,
and stories and so on are made of the same concepts. Pink even talks about the
heros journey and how it even relates to A Whole New Mind. Most stories that are
being told are being experienced differently, but they all have the same
ingredients. Stories are important cognitive events that capture information,
knowledge, context and emotion into one condensed bundle. No matter if the
ingredients are the same or similar to other stories. We are still connecting and
building that network of knowledge.
When it comes to creating story in the classroom, several imagination sparks
from Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandons book Imagination First could be pulled out.
Almost all of their imagination sparks have the idea of story that can be connected
to them. One of the sparks that I was looking at was Yes and never say no to an
idea. This is such a fun imagination spark to create a narrative with the class. The
rules are simple, it is improve and when your turn comes to add to the story you
must start with Yes and no matter how silly the story may be. Another spark
that can utilized in the classroom is Renew Your Narrative ask whether your story
still serves you. Using this spark will help students create a self-awareness to the

Kelsi Brosnahan
June 22, 2016
Curriculum 8740
narratives, the collective, and the individual. Looking at another resource A New
Culture of Learning by Douglass Thomas and John Seely Brown they talk about using
story books like J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series. the kids reading the thousands
of pages of text learned a lot about history, geography, philosophy, interpersonal
communication, and basic sociology and all without memorization. (Thomas D. &
Brown J. S., 2011, p. 44) Story is a part of us, it is inevitable. There are so many
different ways that we can build story into our curriculum and into the Pinks other
Now, the other senses that I have not touch upon yet are design, symphony,
empathy, play, and meaning. Story can be built in or connected to the rest of the
senses. Design is not only about function but about what is artistically pleasing to
the eye. One of the portfolio activities that Pink discusses using with the sense of
design is to become a design detective and observing the quality of design
around you. This creates story through connecting the design with the feeling of the
space and can help the viewer ping from prior knowledge. Symphony is the ability
to put together all of the different little pieces and flow into a bigger picture. Story
can beautifully be told in a symphonic way through the creation of an inspiration
board. Empathy is the scaffolding of morality and building of self and collective
awareness. This sense can be connected to any aspect of story through the idea of
high concept and high touch. Play is the action of searching for knowledge and
meaning through a trail-and-error process with materials or concepts. Games,
technology based or not, puts the participant in a learning environment where they
use story to pull and build prior knowledge. Meaning is our fundamental drive for
our human existence. Our whole human existences is survived by stories. All of the
senses can be fully rounded out when meaning is added to them.

Kelsi Brosnahan
June 22, 2016
Curriculum 8740
It is clear that the Conceptual Age is here and our visual culture is expanding
into this new horizon. Pinks descriptions of these sense as being the high-concept
and high-touch abilities that should be mastered in order to succeed in the future of
the age seem to be true. As an educator, these six sense can be utilized to spark
imagination and creative learning in the classroom. We need to create innovators in
order to have the movers and shakers that our Conceptual Age needs. Pinks senses
are a fabulous place to start.

Kelsi Brosnahan
June 22, 2016
Curriculum 8740

Freedman, K. J. (2003). Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics, and the social life of
art. New York: Teachers College Press.
Liu, E., & Noppe-Brandon, S. (2009). Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pink, D. H. (2006). A Whole New Mind. Penguin Books.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for
a World of Constant Change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace?