Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2012

A business executive recently said in an interview that “You’ve heard this a million times before: The only way to fail is to not fail, because otherwise you’re not taking risks. You’re not getting better.  You’re just doing the things that you know will work. Now, the difference is that you really want people who learn from their mistakes.”.  Get that? ” The only way to fail is to not fail” : which means that failing is the key to success.

So why do our conventional schools not understand that?  In schools it’s all about the “one right answer”.  Red marks on your paper are an embarrassment: a sign of wrong answers – failure.  To be avoided.  Students “learn” to regurgitate and not take risks.  Like I  said in my previous post, how you go about “teaching” conveys a great deal about what you will actually convey – the process is inherent in the message.

We need to embrace failure as the necessary road to success, to achievement. There’s truly no other way there.  Avoid failure and you avoid success – now that’s not what schools teach students, not the conventional ones.

Tied up in this are parenting styles that endeavor to “protect” children from disappointment, helicopter parents and any parenting that amounts to “making sure it all works out”.  How will our children learn to cope, to persevere, to manage disappointment, if they aren’t allowed and encouraged to fail?  I’ve written about that here too.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The business world, the world where people work once they move  out of schooling, knows the value of “doing”- it’s called “experience”, and there’s no substitute for it.  Employers regularly complain about new hires out of school who can’t do anything. They can’t think, they can’t apply a principle if they “didn’t have a case study about that” — in short, they aren’t good at DOING.

In rethinking about what education needs to be about and how we can then go about achieving this two things always come to the surface.  One is that education needs to be conceived as more than the transmission of data/facts and second is that the means by which you go about doing it conveys as much as what you are conveying.  In other words, how you go about the  business of education says a lot about what you are teaching. In fact, the two are inseparable.

Want to teach engagement and creativity/innovation?  You have to give students the opportunity to ask their own questions, explore and discover.  Stop “telling”.  Figuring out what the good questions are will always be more important than finding  out the answers to any questions.  Yet, schools today still provide the question and send students off to find the answers.  “Innovators” in education today think they are making significant strides when they  provide iPads as a tool to find the answers.  This is what passes for thoughtful and “forward thinking” solutions to the education crisis.  Myopic indeed.  This is what happens when people who have not truly been “educated” are old enough to be in charge.

Of  course, “doing”, if we’re lucky, often leads to failing.  More about  that in the next post.

Read Full Post »

Well, that’s the comment that a former Harvard president, Derek Bok, once made: that the two were about as easy to do. His replacement, Larry Summers, wrote in the NY Times recently that in 21st century universities “students (still) take four courses a term, each meeting for about three hours a week, usually with a teacher standing in front of the room. Students are evaluated on the basis of examination essays handwritten in blue books and relatively short research papers. Instructors are organized into departments, most of which bear the same names they did when the grandparents of today’s students were undergraduates. A vast majority of students still major in one or two disciplines centered on a particular department”.

And so the cemetery of education sits. In a recent Huffington Post article, Laura Shaw suggested that there are entrenched interests that keep the system as it is.  One thing simply screams as intuitively true: in a world that is remaking itself on so many fronts, surely the approach to what education is and how it should be achieved needs to be rethought.  Innovation guru Seth Godin just published an online manifesto arguing that “School was invented to create a constant stream of compliant factory workers to the growing businesses of the 1900s. It continues to do an excellent job at achieving this goal, but it’s not a goal we need to achieve any longer.”

So what are the new goals?  Well, I’ve written about that in this space for two years now.  The question is, why is there so little demand out there?  Why are parents willing to put up with a system that is so clearly out-of touch, out-of-synch, and utterly broken?  Stories abound about the decay of the education system.  Creativity experts  decry the destructive style of  conventional schools which strip all the inventiveness and engagement that is natural to people. Yet, the system persists.

Larry Summers identified six elements of an appropriate education, if we were to make a change.  Some of his focus is on:  processing information over retaining facts, collaboration over “keep your eyes on your own work”, and active learning.  Not a bad start.

Read Full Post »