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
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.
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
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
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: