I just finished watching a TED talk titled “Stop Stealing Dreams” where Seth Godin shared with his audience a very simple question to consider: what is school for? In this presentation, Godin wanted his viewers to consider that question get it burned into their heads.
What is school for?
The goal of school, he argues, has not been to educate and inspire the minds of the next generation. School is about teaching obedience; students are taught respect and obedience, how to take standardized tests and fall into line. Godin presents examples of education in the past 150 years where students aren’t being inspired to think, but follow orders. School wasn’t meant to prepare young people to become scholars; “It was to train people to behave, fit in, comply”. Do you know what Horace Mann called the school he founded to teach teachers? He called it the Normal School. This is, of course, because this iteration of education was meant to force students to fit in, so it follows then, that the instructors who force this compliance also must fit in, be compliant, obey.
This factoid shocked me, to be entirely honest. I was not aware of this; learning of it has convinced me to listen genuinely to the suggestions for change in what we say school is for and how we achieve that end.
It shouldn’t be surprising that technology is the foundation for Godin’s suggestions. The end goal of school should be different today than 100 years ago- thanks to the many opportunities available to educators and students, now.
Here are some of the changes Godin wants to normalize in modern education:
Godin presents an alternative to the old model for us as educators: Instead of forcing students to do work. Let’s get them to create art, instead. We can guide them to create art if we destroy the idea that they need to regurgitate facts and the status quo. Why wouldn’t we want our kids to create art, to create something interesting, to figure it out?
Sorry to say, but I don’t have the answer, myself. I personally am still working out the details of what school is for. I know technology will play an integral role, but I think that figuring out this question requires more than a blank promise to use digital resources in the classroom.
Anyway, I want to know what you have to think.
Watch Godin’s talk for yourself then tell me:
what’s school for?
Godin, Seth. “Stop Stealing Dreams”. (2012, October 12). TED talk. [youtube video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpbONjV1Jc&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp&index=11
I'm a Teaching Credential Candidate at CSUSM working towards a credential in English and Social Studies/History. Here's where I'll share my thoughts on various articles and videos related to teaching as well as my experiences in the education world.