Learning and the three C’s

Seth Godin has created a manifesto called Stop stealing dreams (what is school for?). You can download it Squidoo. Here’s the basic idea behind the need for this manifesto.

“The economy has changed, probably forever.  School hasn’t. School was invented to create a constant stream of compliant factory workers to the growing businesses of the 1900s. It continues to do an excellent job at achieving this goal, but it’s not a goal we need to achieve any longer.”

Here are some quotations from the manifesto if you can’t be bothered to read all of it (but shame on you if you don’t). Two of my favourite, and related quotes are:

“There are only two tools available to the educator. The easy one is fear. Fear is easy to awake, easy to maintain, but ultimately toxic. The other tool is passion.”

and

“What we cannot do, though, is digitize passion.”

I don’t know what teachers think of this? For me as a parent and someone who cares about where our next generation of engineers, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs is going to come from it seems to make a lot of sense. The manifesto is not just a catalogue of what’s wrong with education in the modern world but also has some concrete ideas for what to do about it. Here are six:

  1. Homework during the day, lectures at night
  2. Access to any course, anywhere in the world
  3. The end of multiple-choice exams
  4. Experience instead of test scores as a measure of achievement
  5. Cooperation instead of isolation
  6. Lifelong learning, earlier work

For some teachers these are, I imagine, scary ideas. They require a seismic shift in how we go about organising, paying for and delivering education. It seems though that the alternative is, well there is no real alternative!

Ken Robinson has similar thoughts and if you have not seen his TED talk Schools Kill Creativity go and take a look. It’s both amusing and hugely worrying.

Many of the ideas in the manifesto and the talk by Ken Robinson resonate with our ideas of what it is to be a versatilist. Creativity can, and often is, ‘educated out’ of children. Learning of facts which you can look up in seconds on the web and passing tests which just teach you how to pass tests are a way of damping down passion and driving kids away from lifelong learning.

There are many aspects to being a versatilist which we aim to explore over time in this blog however for me one of the things education needs to focus on is not the filling of heads full of facts but the three C’s:

  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Communication

I think these form a virtuous circle that reinforce each other as shown here:

Collaboration leads to new ideas and creativity which, when communicated aids collaboration which leads to… You get the idea?

The three C’s definitely underpin what it is to be a versatilist and “teaching” these in schools will certainly help get us off the race to the bottom that the current education system seems to be leading us to. Please read the Seth Godin manifesto and join the debate both there and here.

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