What is school for?

I would like to talk about a project by Seth Godin called “Stop stealing dreams – What is school for?”.

The project gained my attention after I watched a TEDx-talk by Seth Godin a few months ago.

Even though I don’t agree on every point made by Seth, The overal picture is, in my opinion correct: We need more creativity and collaboration within our education system.

So after watching the video I looked around on the internet a bit and found a manifesto by Seth on the subject (you can find it here) that deepens the points he makes in the talk a bit. I would like to highlight some points in his talk and pamphlet that I think are as applicable to school as they are to business.

Teaching obedience

Not only school is teaching obedience, our factories and organisations are doing the same. Yet, when we look at and analyse inspiring, innovating and thriving workplaces, the first thing you here is they’re mocking corporate hierarchic cultures. People work on projects they are good on, regardless their rank. People respect each other for what they are doing now, not for what they did in the past.

A good, innovative and inspiring environment is an environment where you can pick up responsibilities on projects you’re good at, and get the support on stuff you know less about.

If it’s work, we try to figure out how to do less

The same problem comes up with measuring stuff. If you sell through cold calls and your work is measured on the amount of calls you make (rather than how good you are), chances are you just phone a lot without actually selling.

Will this be on the test?

If someone loves his job, don’t start measuring, put trust in that person and see how that works.

One-size-fits-all solutions

Do not exist. Complex question have complex solutions to them. Always. You will not find a one-size-fits-all solution, so stop looking for it.

We’re at a crossroads because as a culture, the only thing we care about, the only thing we are willing to buy, the only stuff we are willing to talk about is interesting, is art, is new, will touch us, is valuable.

And then we spend all our money and our time in teaching people not to do that.

Try shifting from short-tail to long-tail production. Less mass waste production, more personalized, long-term relationships.

Homework during the day, lectures at night

The same goes for organisations. Only meet if you need feedback. If your team is interested how you’re doing, they will ask, don’t schedule progress-meetings, schedule work meetings (and only invite people who are actually working on it).

As a bonus I’ve added an interview from the Goodlife Project with Seth Godin.



About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.


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