“If you do a job where someone tells you exactly what to do, he will find someone cheaper than you to do it.” – Seth Godin
In his new free eBook “Stop Stealing Dreams” (go get it!!), Seth Godin looks at the educational machine as it is and tries to get us to understand that it is no longer relevant to the world we live in. Most educators have been saying this for years. Most politicians have been saying this for years too. But the problem isn’t with teachers or politicians – it’s with the public at large. Change is hard – especially when it has to do with our own children.
We want them to have the same (or similar) experiences to those we had growing up simply because of the nostalgia that it brings. Yet, what we fail to consider is that what we had wasn’t so great. Sure, to our selective minds it seemed to be a wonderful time and we had great teachers and there was no bullying and you got ahead because you worked hard and earned it.
The problem with this mindset is that it doesn’t accurately portray what OUR education was preparing us for.
That system was preparing us for a world that maxed out in 1985. One where you could get a good job if you went to college and you had a boss that told you what to do, you put in your 9 hours and went home to your family. That world no longer exists and by not facing that head on, we are dooming our children and their future.
To help prepare our students for the future, we must teach them to be indispensable – to create and imagine. In the book 21st century skills, the forward speaks to this changing paradigm. As a paraphrase, an Apple senior staff member was explaining that if a person comes to work expecting someone else to tell them what to do, they are no longer “hireable”. That’s a huge statement with our slow-to-recover economy.
People can no longer have the expectation that they just need to have the most up-to-date skills. The people who will succeed in this new economy are those who have both a vast array of skills and the mind that can synthesize those skills into something new and useful. Is our current educational system preparing our students for that? I know many systems that are trying, but we have a long way to go.
And our most pressing need is to get parents, communities and society at large to demand an overhaul in how and what we teach.
We should be focusing on classes that teach multiple skills at the same time and teach students how to synthesize information. Integrate, integrate, integrate – because it’s all about networks in the 21st century. Schools should have classrooms that are focusing on the process of learning and not placing such huge emphasis simply on the products. Parents and business leaders should be welcome partners in schools, providing demonstrations, active learning experiences and opportunities for students to engage in their own communities. And every class, everywhere should engage students in thinking artfully about any problem because the Arts are the access points for our learners.
If a student graduates from high school after 13 years of this type of education, we have given them the tools to be indispensable because there will be no one exactly like them in the world. This is the future of education.
When you think of your child, don’t you want the very best?
Not for yesterday or even today. But the very best for a future we can’t even imagine? Of course you do. So advocate for the change we need and don’t stop until every student everywhere has access to it. Only then can we begin to “stop stealing dreams”.
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.