Seth Godin’s “Stop Stealing Dreams”–a manifesto about education


Ever since it came out in March, I’ve been meaning to blog about Seth Godin’s manifesto on education, Stop Stealing Dreams.

But I’ve been too busy teaching. And learning how to be a better teacher to write about why it is so important to read that I gave a copy of the following highlights to my spring classes, and I’m assigning it to my summer classes!

It’s a quick read and you can download it for free. Or you can just read the following excerpts and tuck his ideas away for a later perusal…

If you’re more the video type, check out this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson: “Do schools kill creativity?”

From section 16:

What is school for?

Here’s a hint: learning is not done to you. Learning is something you choose to do.

From Section 17.
Reinventing school
If the new goal of school is to create something different from what we have now, and if new technologies and new connections are changing the way school can deliver its lessons, it’s time for a change.

Here are a dozen ways school can be rethought:

Homework during the day, lectures at night

Open book, open note, all the time

Access to any course, anywhere in the world

Precise, focused instruction instead of mass, generalized instruction

The end of multiple-choice exams

Experience instead of test scores as a measure of achievement

The end of compliance as an outcome

Cooperation instead of isolation

Amplification of outlying students, teachers, and ideas

Transformation of the role of the teacher

Lifelong learning, earlier work
It’s easier than ever to open a school, to bring new technology into school, and to change how we teach. But if all we do with these tools is teach compliance and consumption, that’s all we’re going to get. School can and must do more than train the factory workers of tomorrow.

From section 19. Dreams are difficult to build and easy to destroy :
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.
From section 22. The connection revolution is upon us
It sells the moment short to call this the Internet revolution. In fact, the era that

marks the end of the industrial age and the beginning of something new is

ultimately about connection.

From section 23.And yet we isolate students instead of connecting them
Virtually every academic activity in school is done solo. Homework. Exams.

Writing. The lectures might take place in a crowded room, but they too are

primarily one-way.
How is this focus on the isolated individual going to match up with what actually

happens in every field of endeavor? No competent doctor says, “I don’t know

what to do, I’ll figure it out myself.” No academic researcher or steelworker or

pilot works in complete isolation.
Group projects are the exception in school, but they should be the norm.
Figuring out how to leverage the power of the group—whether it is students in

the same room or a quick connection to a graphic designer across the sea in

Wales—is at the heart of how we are productive today.

130.Whose dream?
There’s a generational problem here, a paralyzing one.

Parents were raised to have a dream for their kids—we want our kids to be

happy, adjusted, successful. We want them to live meaningful lives, to contribute

and to find stability as they avoid pain.

Our dream for our kids, the dream of 1960 and 1970 and even 1980, is for the

successful student, the famous college, and the good job. Our dream for our kids

is the nice house and the happy family and the steady career. And the ticket for

all that is good grades, excellent comportment, and a famous college.
And now that dream is gone. Our dream. But it’s not clear that our dream really

matters. There’s a different dream available, one that’s actually closer to who we

are as humans, that’s more exciting and significantly more likely to affect the

world in a positive way.
When we let our kids dream, encourage them to contribute, and push them to do

work that matters, we open doors for them that will lead to places that are

difficult for us to imagine. When we turn school into more than just a finishing

school for a factory job, we enable a new generation to achieve things that we

were ill-prepared for.
Our job is obvious: we need to get out of the way, shine a light, and empower a

new generation to teach itself and to go further and faster than any generation

ever has. Either our economy gets cleaner, faster, and more fair, or it dies.

If school is worth the effort (and I think it is), then we must put the effort into

developing attributes that matter and stop burning our resources in a futile

attempt to create or reinforce mass compliance.

From section 131.How to fix school in twenty-four hours
Don’t wait for it. Pick yourself. Teach yourself. Motivate your kids. Push them to

dream, against all odds.
Access to information is not the issue. And you don’t need permission from

bureaucrats. The common school is going to take a generation to fix, and we

mustn’t let up the pressure until it is fixed.
But in the meantime, go. Learn and lead and teach. If enough of us do this,

school will have no choice but to listen, emulate, and rush to catch up.
From section 132.What we teach
When we teach a child to make good decisions, we benefit from a lifetime of

good decisions.
When we teach a child to love to learn, the amount of learning will become

When we teach a child to deal with a changing world, she will never become

When we are brave enough to teach a child to question authority, even ours, we

insulate ourselves from those who would use their authority to work against each

of us.
And when we give students the desire to make things, even choices, we create a world filled with makers.

Read all of Stop Stealing Dreams:


Learn more about Seth Godin:

2 thoughts on “Seth Godin’s “Stop Stealing Dreams”–a manifesto about education

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s