10/28/2005 08:56 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

More on Rational AND Intuitive Thought

In my recent blog, I discuss the role of 'intuitive' thought as a balance of 'rational' thought in science. This is not an either/or view; rather, the recognition that both are valuable in science, and society. What seems lacking in our culture, at present, is the lack of opportunities for intuitive thought to be part of the learning experience. For example, I recently asked undergraduate students in an independent study course to review some materials for their undergraduate project, and then to 'reflect' on how those papers and the experience impacted on them as individuals. I asked them to write about how the experience affected them personally. They acknowledged that they had never been asked to do such a reflective piece of writing in their undergraduate experience. Having just toured colleges with my high school son, I see that curriculums generally don't ask students to specifically develop tools of reflection, as the emphasis in higher education is on analytical reasoning and critical evaluation. We are experts in rational thought, which is, of course, a necessary and exceptionally important component of education. But, I believe, it is equally important, that we teach or cultivate the other side of the coin, the reflective (subjective) evaluation of knowledge. This is not about 'new age' anything, or religion, or spirituality; this is about, recognizing that we are human beings who differ in biological make-up and environmental experiences, and thus, each bring to our understanding of the world and ourselves, an individual perspective. It is about beginning to understand that individual perspective, who you are and others around you through first person AND third person experimentation. It is through the integration and valuing of both kinds of experiences that we generate reflective and mindful (aware) leaders of the future, be it in medicine, education, government, or science.