I’m reading a book called Kith, by Jay Griffiths. It’s about the experience of growing up. Griffiths offers some satirical advise for those wishing to run a ‘successful’ school.
- Take approximately 110cm of raw material.
- Make a baseline assessment of the material’s quality.
- Keep the raw material away from snow and do not expose it to more than fifteen minutes of direct sunlight daily.
- Require material to be available and registered at daily assemblies.
- Segregate new material from classes of older material.
- Process the material of one class with identical and uniform treatment.
- Ignore variables in units.
- Reject imagination, autonomy, reverie and play.
- Adopt standard processes and general attainment targets.
- Inspect material regularly and subject it to product testing.
- Quality certification will be given in Grades A descending.
- High-quality product will be sent for further processing.
- Defective product will be subject to product recall.
- Non-compliant product may be treated with methylphenidate.
- Material with is both defective and non-compliant should be warehoused.
- Irredeemably defective non-compliant products will be subject to expulsion from further factory processes, and operators will refer to prison guidelines.
Griffiths also has advice for teachers: the ‘factory operators’:
- Operators will be considered interchangeable.
- Operators will be subject to regular inspection.
- Operators will have attended training programmes set by the factory owners and will use instruction manuals produced in accordance with owners’ guidelines.
- Operators will be required to spend more time in factory administration work and less time in direct contact with material.
- Operators’ requests to use intuition, flexibility and independence will be ignored by the factory owners, as will demands for smaller factories.
- Factory results will be listed in league tables available in all public media.
All jokes aside, I think this raises an important point. There’s a dishonesty at the heart of school, which tells the child the experience is about learning, while in fact it is about the creation of a pliable workforce. Any learning that happens is the responsibility of the student, not the teacher.
Am I cynical? Perhaps. I do believe in education, but I believe in deep, wide education. The sort of education that teaches principles, not techniques. Most techniques can be learned on the job.
Another fact: the demand for a qualified, pre-trained workforce is drying up. Opportunities to blaze your own trail and do your own thing are opening up. There might be ‘no jobs’, as I hear so regularly round here, but there are unlimited opportunities.
Taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way involves rebellion, creativity, imagination, perhaps even a mild form of ‘ADHD’ (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). How many business owners do you know who can’t sit still? Quite a few, I would imagine.
Beyond that, you also need to know how to tell your story. If you can’t communicate your uniqueness, you’ll be seen as a commodity – as just another product of the factory.
The recording of Friday’s webinar, The Story Selling Manifesto is now available here. If you do valuable work, you should make time to watch it.