Is School Killing Our Childrens’ Dreams?

I just finished reading Seth Godin’s new ebook Stop Stealing Dreams. I normally just review books briefly in my monthly reading update, but I want to give my thoughts on this book its own post. I am passionate about education, so I was excited to read this book.

In his typical, punchy style, Godin gets right to the point. While the world has radically transformed since the genesis of the digital age, school has not. There was a time when teachers held the knowledge. At that time, it was the teacher’s job to impart knowledge and information to their students. But that has changed. Information is now only a mouse- click away. With a simple search we can access more information, articles, books, and data on any topic than we ever could have just a generation ago. And yet the school system is still teaching and testing the same way we did fifty years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A teacher’s job is to ignite passion, impart the tools to learn, and engender a thirst for knowledge. The information itself, while important, takes a backseat. If a person has passion, he will learn.

Our culture, though, enjoys ignorance. As a whole, our society, and students in particular, is content to know the bare minimum. We are still teaching and testing them the same way we did before the digital age, and yet, much of that is, quite frankly, useless.

This manifesto states: “that what we need is not to create obedient servants with a large bank of memorized data, but instead to build a generation of creative and motivated leaders.” (112)

Yes. I agree. But our constant testing of students reveals very little in the way of true educational achievement. We reward good test takers and punish the bad ones. There is no category for children who are simply passionate about learning.

This is not the teacher’s fault. Politicians blame teachers for bad test scores, while at the same time, tying their hands to really be able to teach. They are now simply teaching to a test.

Godin is optimistic, though. He believes that if students, parents, and teachers step up and start insisting upon change, we will in the next generation, hopefully, have an entirely different educational system. He urges parents to stay in the system while igniting their children’s dreams and pushing for change. I would love to see this happen, and I do think it is possible. I know, though, that some teachers, administrators, and even entire districts are more open to change than others. It is also going to take many parents to really make a significant change. Possible? Yes. Likely? I don’t know.

Finally, he does not believe that homeschooling is the answer. I am not going to argue his point in this post. I believe homeschooling is a very viable option for some, but most definitely, not for all. He states. “If the goal of the process is [to] create a level of fearlessness, to create a free-range environment filled with exploration and all the failure that entails, most parents just don’t have the guts to pull this off.” I agree. Most do not, but some will. However, if you are going to just pull your kids out to give them the exact same type of education at home, than what is the point?

This book made me rethink the entire philosophy of school. Is school as we know it going to change? Yes, I think so. It has too. Our society is so vastly different now that multiple-choice tests are just not going to cut it. How long will this take? Well, I hope that students, parents, and tax-paying citizens will help speed the process along.

Go here to grab your free copy of Stop Stealing Dreams.

Parents, teachers, and students, what are your thoughts on the current educational system? I would love a good discussion.

Comments

  1. I would venture to add that not only is school killing a children’s dreams, but it is also killing our teachers’ dreams. As a teacher in the public school, I am so encumbered by rules, regulations, stipulations, and “labels”, that I am not free to teach as I would like to teach. Thought provoking. Can’t wait to read the book myself.

    • Look forward to your thoughts after you read it! :)

    • I also meant to say that while the public school has the most testing regulations, etc, and politics come into play it is not only there that we see this kind of teaching. Most private schools (unless they follow a completely different educational philosophy) and many homeschoolers teach this way.

  2. I only have time to make a quick comment, but as I have pondered my kids’ education–at the Mexican school, here at home, in general, regarding their future, etc., etc.–I am becoming convinced that they will be passionate, in the right way, about learning if they are motivated by a desire to glorify God with their lives. I want them to see every learning experience and possibility as preparation for a life of service to Him. Methods, content, testing procedures. . .all that can vary widely. If my children can read well, comprehend and think through what he’s reading and hearing, and interpret life through the lens of Scriptures, they will have the tools necessary to be used of the Lord. I personally am not big on the emphasis on “dreams”. It doesn’t seem to be really consistent with Scriptures in my opinion. I’d have to elaborate later, because I’m sure that will be misunderstood! Obviously, for a public school teacher who’s dealing with unsaved kids every day it’s a different story. I’m speaking only as a mom. :)

    • I agree that many will rise above despite the learning atmosphere they were given. However, just because some will, and do, rise above, I do not think that is a good reason to keep a broken system, or to not do our best to spur on a change.

      As to the tools necessary to serve the Lord, I think I disagree (in a nice friendly way, of course :) ). There are many people that love God sincerely, but are not ambitious and do not have a desire to learn. I think our generation has proven (both non-Christian and Christian) that we will take the easy way. It is unfortunately unusual to see young adults rising above and pursuing knowledge.

      As to using the word ‘dream’ I mainly used it because that is the title of the book and my purpose was to share my thoughts after reading his book. However, I do not see any problem with dreams. Dreams lead to ambition and ambition is most certainly biblical. I have many dreams for my kids and I hope they will have dreams for themselves. That is what God uses to change the world.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I love a good discussion!

      • I don’t have a problem with the word “dream”, but I like the word “vision” even better! “Dreams” or “A Vision” help to bring passion to our lives!

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  3. Leigh Ann says:

    I love this topic! I just wish I knew how to accomplish this especially with a child with autism. His passion is Lightening McQueen. I want to know how to harness that. He is an incredible artist of the afore mentioned McQueen. My husband and I are wanting to find someone that could start teaching him how to use the computer to make his art. Anyway, I look forward to reading the other comments.

    • Leigh Ann, I think that it is great that you are thinking outside the box! I am sure that the right person could really unleash and help him reach his potential with his gifts and interests. I hope you find that person! I admire your desire to give him the best you can and turn his struggles into an open door. That inspires me!

  4. You KNOW my thoughts on all of this. 😉 It is so freeing as a homeschooling mom that I don’t have to know it all. A good teacher ignites a fire in a child to learn independently and because they love learning. My job is to put them in touch with great resources and help them to develop in the areas that they are gifted. They need some prodding here and there but what kid doesn’t? :) Those are character issues. I am so glad that my parents helped me to pursue my love of art and painting as a child. It was a life long gift. Great post.

    • Yes, I agree completely. But it is frustrating to see some homeschoolers just bring the classroom home. If you are just going to learn and test in the same way than you may as well stay in the classroom!

  5. Caroline Giorgini says:

    I’am a French school teacher:we have exactly the same problems here..School can’t stop evaluating pupils and doesn’t let time for learning (some pupils learn very quickly some others who suffer with dyslexia, dyspraxia ….need more time…I ‘am quite sure that many young pupils are unhappy at school)

    • It is sad that we have let testing get in the way of true learning. I have to ask, where in France are you? I grew up in Bordeaux! Thanks for visiting my site! A bientot!

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Trackbacks

  1. […] Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin is about the school system in America and why it needs to change. The school system, as we know it in America, was largely built in the Industrial Age. Because we are in a new age, and really a new world because of technology, he proposes that our entire method of schooling needs to reflect that change. While I would not concur with all of his conclusions, he made me think about things differently than I had before. I think our education system does need to change, I am just not sure he really has a good plan for how to go about it. But I don’t either, so. It is free, so if you are a parent interested in our school system, it is worth reading. I wrote more of my thoughts after reading his book in the post Is School Killing Our Childrens’ Dreams. […]

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