This is something you’re going to be hearing A LOT about, all over the edublogosphere and social media, and even beyond. I hope. Because it’s something that I think every educator needs to read.
We all know that our world and its economy is changing, but school is not. Our system of school is broken. We can’t keep testing kids to death, measuring teacher effectiveness through snippets of isolated data, and educating students in a way that prepares them for rote factory work instead of innovative careers they are passionate about.
Seth Godin is speaking up on behalf of kids through a free eBook he released today. If you are not familiar with Seth, you will love how easy to read and succinct his writing style is. He calls this a 30,000 word manifesto, but it’s broken up into short numbered sections which can be quickly scanned and skimmed.
I haven’t read the entire thing yet, but I feel confident in recommending it because I’ve read so much about Seth’s views on education on his blog and in his other books, and I always find his viewpoints compelling, even when I disagree. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from “Stop Stealing Dreams” so far:
We don’t ask students to decide to participate. We assume the contract of adhesion, and relentlessly put information in front of them, with homework to do and tests to take. Entirely skipped: commitment. Do you want to learn this? Will you decide to become good at this? The universal truth is beyond question—the only people who excel are those who have decided to do so. Great doctors or speakers or skiers or writers or musicians are great because somewhere along the way, they made the choice. Why have we completely denied the importance of this choice Who will teach bravery?
The essence of the connection revolution is that it rewards those who connect, stand out, and take what feels like a chance. Can risk-taking be taught? Of course it can. It gets taught by mentors, by parents, by great music teachers, and by life. Why isn’t it being taught every day at that place we send our kids to? Bravery in school is punished, not rewarded. The entire institution is organized around avoiding individual brave acts, and again and again we hear from those who have made a difference, telling us that they became brave despite school, not because of it.
I also love:
The role of the teacher in this new setting is to inspire, to intervene, and to raise up the motivated but stuck student. Instead of punishing great teachers with precise instructions on how to spend their day, we give them the freedom to actually teach…let teachers be teachers again.
Some of his words are painful to read, because they call attention to the huge disservice to our kids that is being done by our current method of schooling. I don’t see it as an attack on teachers; it’s a call to rethink the way our system is being run. I think most of us as educators would LIKE to have more freedom to inspire students and connect them to their passions; we aren’t able to do this well because we don’t know how to do it within the context of our current textbooks-and-testing school system, and our school leaders don’t share the vision for effective school reform. This book helps alleviate both problems. It calls for a method of schooling that inspires kids to become motivated and courageous life-long learners. And that’s good for kids AND teachers.
Download the full eBook here. Seth’s made it available in PDF, Kindle, ePUB, HTML, and more. He asks that we share it freely. The more people who read this message, the closer we’ll come to creating viable solutions for fixing our education system.