• “If you care enough about your work to be willing to be criticised for it, you have done a good day’s work.” – Seth Godin

Education Day in the USA today celebrates the advocacy of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who, As Clinton’s Education Day proclamation read, “understood the importance of nurturing the heart along with the mind. Throughout his long and rich life, he believed that the education of our young people would only be successful if it sought to build character as well as intellect, if it taught the lessons of honesty, tolerance, and good citizenship, as well as language, math, and science.”

Own of my own respected reformers, Seth Godin, has himself evangelised a cultural change in how education is approached. The Ted talk above, “Stop Stealing Dreams” is inspired and he shared two further videos on the subject of education which make for compelling viewing.

At the heart of his message is the critique of rote, methodical learning of the “right way”. His experience stems mostly from the USA, but I can attest that the same dynamics are alive if not worse in the UK. I’ll never forget when our son Chase was writing an essay about Hamlet in secondary school. He had come up with an interesting perspective articulated with a creative metaphor. As someone who aced his AP Shakespeare course, subscribed to the Boston Shakespeare Company and watch about a dozen renditions of Hamlet, I could stand on some familiarity that his analysis was as insightful as it was apropos. Frustratingly, he was marked DOWN on his essay for including it because it was not one of the approved “standard” points that the standardized exam graders would be looking for. The experience did not promote Chase’s intellectual growth, but instead deflated and demotivated him in this subject where he had strong skills and interest.

Godin’s insights are not just about education in school, but the day-to-day education derived at all points along life from pre-school playing with toys to post-school maintaining our cars. He notes that Lego was originally a much more creative medium than kit model airplanes and electronic sets. But modern Lego is now dominated by elaborate paint-by-numbers Star Wars and, well, more Star Wars kits.

In the grown up world, Seth comments about, in essence, my concept of the “black boxing” of the world. He refers to it as “no user serviceable parts inside”….

  • “What we did is we built culture about doing things right. About getting a car where we don’t need to change the oil, where we don’t want to change the oil, where we are unable to change the oil.”