Seth Godin is sharing his thoughts about education and they are very stimulating thoughts! His ebook (which is free) is entitled “Stop Stealing Dreams“.
The basic thesis is that our education system is designed to produce compliant producers and consumers. Compliant producers/workers tend to end up in hourly paid jobs and with the globalisation of large corporations, there’s been a race to the bottom. If you work for an hourly rate, you are disposable. In fact, increasingly it’s likely your employer will seek to replace you with someone who will work for less – either in your country, or in another one.
There’s not much of a future for any of us down that road, so what we need instead are unique, autonomous, creative individuals – artists (he says) and scientists (of the ideal type – the ones who are truly constantly skeptical, not the ones who think they are the new guardians of THE TRUTH!)
Schools need to change to meet the changing times. In particular we need to move from FEAR – which is used to induce compliance – to PASSION – to encourage self-starters, innovators and life-long committed learners.
Part of that process is to encourage our children to dream (hey, we need to encourage our ADULTS to dream too!) – to dream BIG, but to dream REALISTIC. In other words, not to accept the status quo, but not to opt out by dreaming the dreams sold by those in control – dreams of celebrity for example. No, the kind of dreams we need to encourage are the dreams which motivate people to engage with working towards making them happen.
Here’s a quote or two –
19. The dreams we need are self-reliant dreams. We need dreams based not on what is but on what might be. We need students who can learn how to learn, who can discover how to push themselves and are generous enough and honest enough to engage with the outside world to make those dreams happen. I think we’re doing a great job of destroying dreams at the very same time the dreams we do hold onto aren’t nearly bold enough
11. School’s industrial, scaled-up, measurable structure means that fear must be used to keep the masses in line. There’s no other way to get hundreds or thousands of kids to comply, to process that many bodies, en masse, without simultaneous coordination. And the flip side of this fear and conformity must be that passion will be destroyed. There’s no room for someone who wants to go faster, or someone who wants to do something else, or someone who cares about a particular issue. Move on. Write it in your notes; there will be a test later. A multiple choice test. Do we need more fear? Less passion?
29. There really are only two tools available to the educator. The easy one is fear. Fear is easy to awake, easy to maintain, but ultimately toxic. The other tool is passion. A kid in love with dinosaurs or baseball or earth science is going to learn it on her own. She’s going to push hard for ever more information, and better still, master the thinking behind it. Passion can overcome fear – the fear of losing, of failing, of being ridiculed.
Seth highlights a problem I see in health care, even though he is focused on education in this ebook. He describes Taylorism and Scientific Management –
“measure often. Figure out which inputs are likely to create testable outputs. If an output isn’t easily testable, ignore it.” It would be a mistake to say that scientific education doesn’t work. It creates what we test.
Here’s his definition of an artist by the way –
“An artist is someone who brings new thinking and generosity to his work, who does human work that changes another for the better.”
He uses the same definition in his We are All Weird.
And, just to finish with here, he highlights the issue of getting people to give a damn –
“Can we teach people to care? Can we teach kids to care enough about their dreams that they’ll care enough to develop the judgement, skill, and attitude to make them come true?”