This essay in my series of reprints from Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams Education Manifesto is about students attitudes and how schools can affect them. To learn more about this series and the book, see Education Manifesto ‘Stop Stealing Dreams’ by Seth Godin. You can also download Stop Stealing Dreams for free.
Essay 12. Is it possible to teach attitudes?
The notion that an organization could teach anything at all is a relatively new one.
Traditionally, society assumed that artists, singers, artisans, writers, scientists, and alchemists would find their calling, then find a mentor, and then learn their craft. It was absurd to think that you’d take people off the street and teach them to do science or to sing, and persist at that teaching long enough for them to get excited about it.
Now that we’ve built an industrial solution to teaching in bulk, we’ve seduced ourselves into believing that the only thing that can be taught is the way to get high SAT scores.
We shouldn’t be buying this.
We can teach people to make commitments, to overcome fear, to deal transparently, to initiate, and to plan a course.
We can teach people to desire lifelong learning, to express themselves, and to innovate.
And just as important, it’s vital we acknowledge that we can unteach bravery and creativity and initiative. And that we have been doing just that.
School has become an industrialized system, working on a huge scale, that has significant byproducts, including the destruction of many of the attitudes and emotions we’d like to build our culture around.
In order to efficiently jam as much testable data into a generation of kids, we push to make those children compliant, competitive zombies.
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