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.
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.