Monday, March 5, 2012

157. What Is School For?

"An artist is someone who brings new thinking and generosity to his work, who does human work that changes another for the better. An artist invents a new kind of insurance policy, diagnoses a disease that someone else might have missed, or envisions a future that’s not here yet. 
And a linchpin is the worker we can’t live without, the one we’d miss if she was gone. The linchpin brings enough gravity, energy, and forward motion to work that she makes things happen. 
Sadly, most artists and most linchpins learn their skills and attitudes despite school, not because of it. 
The future of our economy lies with the impatient. The linchpins and the artists and the scientists who will refuse to wait to be hired and will take things into their own hands, building their own value, producing outputs others will gladly pay for. Either they’ll do that on their own or someone will hire them and give them a platform to do it."

Seth Godin is one of my favorite modern thinkers. This man questions everything!!! Not in an adversarial, confrontational way...but in a "why can't we do things better?" kind of way.

I'm reading his new e-book right now. It's called Stop Stealing Dreams. It's available to download for FREE. I highly suggest that you do.

This man gives away some amazing material on his blog every day. (Yes, I subscribe.) But this e-book is a truly exceptional exploration on what needs improving in our educational system.

I know I've been blogging all about the gloriousness of going to one of these awesome grad schools for acting...and one of the reasons I think they are such great schools, is because I've experienced a lot of mediocrity in the U.S. educational system. (Which is the subject of Mr. Godin's current e-book.)

Now, that's not to say that NYU and Yale and Juilliard are PERFECT examples of educational utopia. They are not. I am sure that there's plenty of improvements that could be made (especially after reading Seth Godin's inspiring manifesto on education).

At any rate, I think it's important to question the quality of any institution that affects the quality of our lives as directly as school.

Why we do things the way that we do as a society? Is there a better way? Those are important questions for us to consider...especially within the institutions we most believe in.

Will this e-book interest you? It will if you've ever taken a required course in school and thought..."Why the HELL am I required to learn this B%ll$#it?"

Or if you have taken an elective and thought..."Why the HELL isn't THIS a REQUIRED course for alllllll graduates?" (That's how I felt when taking "Personal Financial Management 101" and  (to a lesser degree) "Stress Management 101". BOTH OF THOSE CLASSES SHOULD BE REQUIRED IN ORDER TO GRADUATE. Seriously, with the financial state of our country...and the INSANE amount of anti-stress medication that's prescribed in massive amounts...I mean, seriously...Do I remember a single thing about "Econ 101?" ...NO... However, "Personal Financial Management" literally changed my life. My parents never taught me how to invest or how to maintain a good credit score. BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO THEMSELVES. That class should be required for alllll of the 99% to learn about how the 1% got to BE the 1%!... Just sayin'.)

Anyhoo, I'm only about 1/3 of the way through Seth's e-book right now. (Subway reading on my iPhone.) But it's seriously blowing my mind. I'm including some quotes below...hopefully to spark your interest...and give you an idea of what the book is REALLY about...not just my perception of it.

OMG! Ideas are so awesome. Experiencing new ones that ring super true is soooooo satisfying.


Maybe I don't even NEED grad school? Huh? Maybe grad school would actually be COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE to my growth as an artist?

What about THEM ideas?

Blowing. My. Mind.

Question everything,

The following quotes are all taken from Seth Godin's Stop Stealing Dreams... Please feel free to share these ideas with anyone you think may benefit by hearing/reading/debating them.

That's how change conversation at a time.

Chapter 9:  ...the man who industrialized the public schools he created left us with this admonition,…be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.
Unfortunately, that part of his curriculum is almost never taught in school.

Chapter 19: By their nature, dreams are evanescent. They flicker long before they shine brightly. And when creating dreams is more difficult. They’re often related to where we grow up, who our parents are, and whether or not the right person enters our life.
Settling for the not-particularly uplifting dream of a boring, steady job isn’t helpful. Dreaming of being picked—picked to be on TV or picked to play on a team or picked to be lucky—isn’t helpful either. We waste our time and the time of our students when we set them up with pipe dreams that don’t empower them to adapt (or better yet, lead) when the world doesn’t work out as they hope.
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.

Chapter 25: Transparency in the traditional school might destroy it. If we told the truth about the irrelevance of various courses, about the relative quality of some teachers, about the power of choice and free speech—could the school as we know it survive?

Chapter 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.The problem is that individual passion is hard to scale—hard to fit into the industrial model. It’s not reliably ignited. It’s certainly harder to create for large masses of people. Sure, it’s easy to get a convention center filled with delegates to chant for a candidate, and easier still to engage the masses at Wembley Stadium, but the passion that fuels dreams and creates change must come from the individual, not from a demigod.

Chapter 33: 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.

Chapter 35: Greatness is frightening. With it comes responsibility.If you can deny your talents, if you can conceal them from others or, even better, persuade yourself that they weren’t even given to you, you’re off the hook.And being off the hook is a key element of the industrialized school’s promise. It lets parents off the hook, certainly, since the institution takes over the teaching. It lets teachers off the hook, since the curriculum is preordained and the results are tested. And it lets students off the hook, because the road is clearly marked and the map is handed to everyone.If you stay on the path, do your college applications through the guidance office and your job hunting at the placement office, the future is not your fault.That’s the refrain we hear often from frustrated job seekers, frustrated workers with stuck careers, and frustrated students in too much debt. “I did what they told me to do and now I’m stuck and it’s not my fault.” What they’ve exchanged for that deniability is their dreams, their chance for greatness. To go off the path is to claim responsibility for what happens next.

Chapter 36: We demand that students have a trade to fall back on, an assembly-line job available just in case the silly dreams don’t come true. And then, fearing heartbreak, we push them to bury the dream and focus on just the job.

Chapter 44: The Internet is making the role of content gatekeeper unimportant. Redundant. Even wasteful. If there’s information that can be written down, widespread digital access now means that just about anyone can look it up. We don’t need a human being standing next to us to lecture us on how to find the square root of a number or sharpen an axe.(Worth stopping for a second and reconsidering the revolutionary nature of that last sentence.)What we do need is someone to persuade us that we want to learn those things, and someone to push us or encourage us or create a space where we want to learn to do them better.If all the teacher is going to do is read her pre-written notes from a PowerPoint slide to a lecture hall of thirty or three hundred, perhaps she should stay home. Not only is this a horrible disrespect to the student, it’s a complete waste of the heart and soul of the talented teacher.Teaching is no longer about delivering facts that are unavailable in any other format.


If you're not into it...delete.

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