Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Standing Up to "Stop Stealing Dreams"

Seth Godin is at it again.

In 2010, Seth wrote the book that had a galvanizing effect on both my goals as a tester and my trajectory with my career in general, but he also touched upon many of the aspects of education that I was frustrated with. As we are looking at a transformation unlike any in our history, we now have a very different reality facing us. Once upon a time, knowledge was scarce, difficult to come by, and therefore academic education was the only way to get it. Today, that is no longer true. While there is still a large body of "regulated professions" that require a certain education attainment (let's face it, if you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist or a CPA, you have to have credentials that state that that is what you are and what you do), there are many areas where that is absolutely not the case.

In Seth's latest work, Stop Stealing Dreams, he makes the point that we are setting ourselves up to be compliant, obedient workers for a factory system that no longer really exists. As he eloquently stated in Linchpin, the factory model, and the deal it represented to multiple generations of Americans, is over. Globalism and the realities of global capitalism has rendered it obsolete. We cannot survive on an industry of cheap, replaceable workers any longer, and most of us don't want those jobs. What we want is to work in areas with meaning, with passion, and with determination that we create and within bounds that we choose to set.

What would you think of a "school" that offered the following:

  • 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
  • Death of the nearly famous college

These are all ideas that Seth offered as an approach to learning and education that would revolutionize everything. Instead, we are still dealing with the model developed for the start of the industrial revolution. Rather than throw ever more money at a system that's past its prime, would we dare to tackle something even more audacious? A complete overhaul of the system.

These are the questions, and many more, that Set asks in the 150 chapters. Note, these chapters are often quite brief, less than a full page of text. they read like blog posts because, really, that's what most of these are. Taken together, they make for a compelling narrative of doing some thing different, anything different, and getting beyond the model of compliance and getting towards (or back to) a model of crafstmanship, passion, and real learning for the long term. Check it out. You may agree or disagree, but I can promise you, you will not be bored!


Seth Godin said...

Thanks for the shout out. So glad the manifesto resonated with you.

Michael Larsen said...

Thank you, Seth, for stopping by to comment. In many ways, this site would not exist were it not for your writing, so I'm more than happy to give something back in a small way :).