Education is Broken, Let’s Fix it – Episode 13 of #Inthelab

We all agree that education is broken, its something we all slip into conversation every now and then, but why do we all agree on something and no one does anything about it? Rather silly if you ask me.

In Seth Godin’s words:

Stop Stealing Dreams

I like the moment in the video below where Seth Godin asks the question, “what is the goal of school?”. Do we need people who are experts at doing what they’re told, filling in the blank, and memorizing facts? Or do we need critical thinkers that can deal with failure, who aren’t afraid to public speak and can use technology to influence a better way to do business?

Lets change education. No I don’t mean uprooting school and doing it completely different (I mean in a perfect world, yada, yada, yada). I mean what are we doing that will get education to a better spot than it is today? What experiments in learning are we performing? What major failures have we experiences trying to innovate our way to the future of education?

If we aren’t failing at the next iteration of school it’s because we aren’t trying anything new. It’s easy to never be wrong, to do things perfectly every time, to never change your course of action. What’s easy is never what’s best for the organization. Business as usual is an excuse for the timid. It’s a way for people to avoid critically thinking about the future of their organization.

For in a tumultuous business environment, the only thing you can do is keep moving, keep adapting, never being satisfied with the status quo. As the saying goes, “when you’re going through hell, keep going”. Education, just like business isn’t getting any simpler as time goes on. If anything, quite the opposite is occurring. Be quick and nimble.

School of One

“New York City’s School of One may turn out to be the single most important [pilot] conducted in education so far. It is the future.”

—Arthur Levine, President, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

I found out about School of One a couple years ago on a Freakonomics Podcast. School of One is a project trying to redefine how we learn. The school is setup with four different modules. The modules stand for different ways kids learn. They don’t assume that the best way to teach is with an instructor at the front with kids sitting in an audience. They try to help kids learn they way they learn best.

At the end of each day every student writes a short test online. The test is assessing if the student was capable of learning what they set out to learn today. At the end of the day the School of One Algorithm tells them who learned what and how fast they learned it. Adapting the learning styles and curriculum to how the student learns.

Brilliant, simply brilliant. School of One will be the future of how we administer education.

Finland in 2016 will no longer be teaching cursive handwriting in elementary school.

It’s alarming stats like these that make us think long and hard about “but we’ve always taught cursive, how can we not teach cursive!?!” In business and in life, it’s always easier to add one more thing to the list, or to add one more line to your corporate strategy, but when it comes down to it that exactly want you don’t want to be doing. After all, as Porter would say; “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

Lets change the way we teach our kids.

Ricardo Semler has an amazing Ted talk on how to run a company with basically no rules. He’s from Brazil and he’s been trying out a new way to administer school that seems to be working incredibly well.

During the talk at one moment he asks three questions that we know nothing about.

The three questions we need to ask in school that we know nothing about are:

What is the meaning of life?

What is love?

What is death?

If you still don’t think education is broken I’m not going to convince you otherwise. But with anything in life, if you’re behind the curve and don’t adapt you become obsolete. If instead you try your best to get in front of the curve, you’ll force yourself to adapt, to change, to press forward in the next iteration of what education will look like.

We don’t know what the future of education holds, we do know that it will evolve into something new, something we’ve never seen before. When you see an experiment in education, don’t discount it immediately, don’t tune out and assume “it’s the wrong way to do it”, everything new seems a little weird the first time you witness it.

Viva La Change!

If you liked this post you may also like The Smart Classroom is Not Far Away, It May Already Be Here

1 reply
  1. Chris Richards
    Chris Richards says:

    Good blog site. Regarding the cursive writing and other skills, I once had a brilliant boss in a very successful company. One day working late, I discovered he could not cursively write, nor type. In fact, I heard him in his office dictating to a professional writer, whom I later learned would convert his ideas and plans into written documents. The point is, people learn to adapt for their weaknesses. Ask any blind or deaf person, or someone in a wheelchair. To the point of this blog, I would much rather have had a brilliant boss (who could critically think and lead), than one that had only cursive writing skills.

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