It took me a couple of days but I made read through Seth Godin‘s ‘30,000 word manifesto’, “Stop Stealing Dreams“. It’s a complicated text with a lots of stuff in it and it will take me a while to fully digest it.
Here are my initial thoughts:
- I agree with Godin’s large premise, that public schools are outdated, industrial era institutions that need to change because we need citizens with different skills than we did one hundred years ago. So many of the things schools do have nothing to do with learning. I never understand the big deal schools make about being late. I understand about time missed, but some kids need less time or don’t wake up until later. What about that?
- The history of public schooling is interesting, but feels familiar. I think it was covered more completely by reformers like John Taylor Gatto and John Holt
- The list of top 10 employers and the loss of secure ‘middle jobs’ is fascinating. It’s something I’ve been reading about for a while, but it seems it is finally here. What’s interesting is how resistant our culture is to changing the values. People still hang on to the notion that kids need to do what they and their parents did to get ahead in life. It seems like it won;t be until there is widespread failure that we realize the ‘gig’ is up. Are we sharing stories about people who’ve played by the old rules but can’t make ends meet?
- The lack of a shift in culture is a problem as educators try to implement reforms. Parents want their kids to be obedient, do their work and respect authority and they want that to be rewarded. If it isn’t, or if parents are told that students are struggling because they lack creativity, they have idea what that means or how to help. It seems like we are straddling two paradigms and need to find a way to serve both.
- I like the notion that we need to change our role as teachers and what we do. We need to become facilitators and coaches who help and support students as they take risks, fail and try again. We need to be less of a gatekeeper and more of a doorman. Teachers need to be in the business of helping students find their passion and fanning those flames. We need to shift from creating workers to creating artists and dreamers.
- This of course runs completely counter to the various efforts out there to make schools accountable and measure progress. This will be a long and hard fought battle. And it will be fought in legislatures, in school board offices, in staff rooms and in classrooms. The old order will not go quietly.
- Connection is the new crucial. The more connected we are, to knowledge, resources and to others the smarter we are. Smart is no longer about knowledge it’s about connection. Our students need to understand this today.
These are the building blocks of Godin’s manifesto and the rest of his writing is about how to implement this vision and rehashing why we should. The last section was about the coming change to post-secondary education which seemed very American and not as relevant to k-12 education, so I scanned most of that.