“What is school for?” This is the overarching question Seth Godin is asking teachers, parents, and administration to consider. To an observer, it may appear that obedience is our goal in schools these days. We teach students to read what we tell them, write what we tell them, sit where we tell them, and do exactly what we tell them. He makes an interesting point that students have been taught to hold back a little because teachers and parents want to see progress, we always ask for a little bit more. He compares schools to the industrial revolution, where kids were working in factories and obedience was the number one concern. If we are still treating school and kids like workers in factories, then I think there might be a problem here. Seth Godin is arguing for a total transformation of what schools look like today. He points to 8 things that need to change:
1. homework done during the day, lectures (of whatever the student is interested in researching) at night
2. open book, open note all the time
3. access to any course anywhere
4. precise, focused education
5. measuring experience versus outcome
6. cooperation instead of isolation
7. teachers as coaches for lifelong learning
8. death of the famous college - has no relevance to happiness or success
While I agree that memorizing facts has become obsolete in today’s technology rich atmosphere, I’m not sure doing away with school curriculum altogether and letting students choose anything they want to learn will lead to a well rounded society. The idea of using what students are interested in to spark engagement is spot on for me, but I think there is still a certain baseline of knowledge students need to get to before students really discover what those interests are. I’m also not sure I agree with the “death of the famous college.” I am not sure what Seth Godin’s alternative would be, but no matter what college you go to, its about taking classes students want to take. Its the first time students can choose their learning, be on their own, and go deeper into a single subject. This is valuable.
I do agree that teaching obedience in school does not align with what we are asking of them as critical thinkers and lifelong learners. I love Seth Godin’s ideas of using technology, including online lectures in education. However, instead of this being the main event, I see these more as supplements. I think we, as teachers, can use technology and use students’ interests to spark engagement without overhauling the entire system. While that may be necessary at some point in the future, I’m not sure its realistic at this point in time. Still, “What is school for?” is a question to always keep in mind. Everything we do should be benefitting our students and serve a purpose, and if its not, it might be time to reevaluate.
Godin, S. (2012, October 16). STOP STEALING DREAMS: Seth Godin at TEDxYouth@BFS. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpbONjV1Jc&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp&index=10