How do we secure good workers and citizens?

While governments wrestle with the fiscal and economic fallout of the recession, everyone wants to know how to avoid a repeat performance in another 10 or 15 years. Harvard “mind” guru Howard Gardner, author of a book called Five Minds for the Future, says “good work” depends on minds that are disciplined, synthesizing, creative, respectful and ethical. He says a person needs experience in all five in order to work productively with others.

Asked whether the current economic downturn is attributable, in some way, to our failure to cultivate the right kind of minds, Gardner answers:

“Without question, the answer is yes. What came to govern decisions everywhere, including my own university was a reckless disregard for experience, due diligence, caution and contemplating the down side of decisions. If anything, ‘deciders’ were selected and rewarded on the basis of whether they could cut corners and whether they could make it appear as if they were gaining ever greater profits.

“I don’t want to claim that we were seers. But my colleagues and I began our GoodWork Project in 1994-’95, when we were skeptical of the claim that 'markets are self-adjusting and always lead to the best outcomes’. In order for markets to work, one needs wise policies, wise policymakers, tough regulation and, above all, individuals who behave in an ethical way and demand ethical behavior from others.

“Now 15 years later, people are approaching us from many sectors saying, ‘How do we secure good work? How can the young people, the future leaders of America, become good workers and citizens?’ We certainly don’t have all the answers, but I'd like to think that we can prevent more damage and help orient individuals toward responsible behaviors—actions that in the long run serve the general welfare, and not primarily the pockets of the so-called “masters of the universe.” ~ Scientific American, March 17


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