Seth Godin On Education

I’ve got a ton going on but nothing to say about it today. So instead of a daily post, I am going to share a video with you that has been suggested to me by a few of you in the community and a bunch more over email this past week.

It’s Seth Godin talking about education and what we need to do about it. I watched it this morning and hopefully you can too. It’s 16 minutes long.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. Seth Godin

    Thanks Fred. Hard to imagine you with nothing to say, but I can imagine you’re too busy to say it.If anyone is interested in this topic, I wrote a free ebook on it. Visit http://www.stopstealingdrea… to get it in pdf, in various languages and as an ebook.The sooner parents and taxpayers start asking the question, “what is school for?” the sooner it starts to change for the better.

    1. andyswan

      Hey Seth I couldn’t agree more that schools are killing our children’s dreams.Especially public schools….I really have trouble supporting ANY of the current system… Part of me believes that their entire purpose is to create an army of drones dedicated to “the collective”…but I digress.Experimentation comes from localization. Success comes from competition. Pressure should come from parent choice and mobility.The first step has to be to eliminate the U.S. dept of education.My .02…. thanks for all you do to make us all THINK.

      1. fredwilson

        Eliminating the Dept of Education won’t accomplish any of those things. I am not arguing against doing that. But its not top priority. I think the charter school movement is top priority to achieve those things

        1. andyswan

          Curious why you think eliminating DOE wouldn’t significantly increase localization and choice?

          1. fredwilson

            They don’t help but they don’t hurt either. They are irrelevant. All great revolutions start at the source. Start a Charter School in your city and ignore everything else.

          2. andyswan

            We may have to disagree on this one… I see value in eliminating the powerful institution that actively suppresses our revolutionary efforts ๐Ÿ™‚

          3. kidmercury

            siding with andy in this beef. charter schools get public funding so optimization of charter schools could benefit from optimizing the department of indoctrination.

          4. pointsnfigures

            My friend started a charter school in Chicago. Gary Comer College Prep. You cannot imagine the headaches. I like @sethgodin:disqus’s question. What is school for? It starts to open up the mind to a different possibility. I am the product of public schools, but I had parents at home that forced me to apply myself. Even though the school was a mix of white/blue collar school, we got a decent education if we sought it out. But times and technology have changed. It’s time to rethink how we educate our kids. @andyswan:disqus is correct, the way the Dept of Education operates, it stands in the way of change rather than embracing it. Too much fear of failure from all government organizations. They are risk averse.

          5. StartUpJerkFest

            start at home with your own kids. review their school work, ask what they’ve learned and teach them how it applies to life in the outside world. if it doesn’t apply, teach them that sometimes there is bullshit you need to go through to get to your goal, that’s life.

        2. Susan Rubinsky

          My son went to a fantastic charter school for middle school – Elm City Prep in New Haven, CT. Run by Achievement First – http://www.achievementfirst

        3. BillSeitz

          As long as Charter Schools have to work with the DoE/NCLB GameRule-s, there won’t be significant experimentation.

          1. kidmercury


        4. Dave W Baldwin

          Related problem is competition in sports leads to lack of cooperation in scholastics on local level. True integration will help enable the needed next level we are after.

        5. falicon

          My argument is that the real, first, problem is the parents commitment and engagement…that is I think many parents are stretched too thin to really dedicate the proper time to helping/guiding their children’s education.I see *way* too many parents expecting the school (and other programs they put their kids into) to do the work of raising the kids right…and getting upset/aggravated when they have to actually get involved in helping the kid understand/accomplish things.Good school, bad school, boring school…they will mean nothing to a kid that doesn’t have involved and engaged leadership at home.

          1. kidmercury

            “I think many parents are stretched too thin to really dedicate the proper time to helping/guiding their children’s education.”high quantities of truth right there…..that is the main problem that needs to be solved: parents are stretched too thin. anything that doesn’t address that problem won’t work in my opinion.

          2. raycote

            Are you suggesting that we need to solve the problem of equitable wealth distribution before we can get on with any major improvements in educational tools and techniques?Which comes first? redistribution of wealthor redistribution of quality educationIsn’t that just another chicken or egg problem?

          3. kidmercury

            i don’t see it as a chicken/egg problem. i think the only education that is needed is how the monetary system works, which people already intuitively understand is somewhat fraudulent. but i do believe solving the monetary problem solves many, many other problems — including education.

          4. raycote

            Got to agree on the monetary problem being universally pivotal!But doesn’t solving that problem itself largely hinges on mass education about the nature of that universal fraud?

          5. kidmercury

            true, but that is really a matter of educating adults and boils down to watching a few youtube videos. the real issue is they dont WANT to know. that’s a big problem, and i’m not sure what the solution is. the only solution i can think of is things getting so bad that eventually people decide they’ve had enough and start to inform themselves and act on the new information they acquire.

          6. LE

            “parents are stretched too thin”It’s a “keeping up with the Jones thing” in addition to your economic views. To much consumerism as well as to many extra curricular activities, sports and to much of an emphasis on community service instead of just simply focusing on what a child needs to survive in this world.

          7. kidmercury

            debt is the main problem. even people are self-sacrificing angels, they won’t get ahead because of the current monetary system. nigeria has paid amount it has borrowed 3X over already. the US is on the same path and the same results are inevitable without monetary reform.

          8. Wavelengths

            “Stretched too thin” keeps people from having time to actually think and Question Authority. It serves the system to ensure that people are too busy.And, I don’t believe the second-job thing is about consumerism. From where I see things, it’s about bare-knuckle survival.

          9. raycote

            I agree on the importance of parental involvement!Still a school system that offered the tools, resources and structure to engage kids in self-directed passion-driven learning opportunities would go a long way to remediating that problem.

    2. fredwilson

      I think its somewhere in between. I have a lot to say but I am having trouble figuring out how to say it these days. Its not writers block. But I need to find more time in my day to think and write. The 5am to 6am slot isn’t getting it done for me like it used to.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        I’ve only recently started blogging – in the true sense of the expression – and how you’ve done it pretty much daily for so long is amazing, Fred.I’d find it even harder to commit to a certain timeframe when I decant my thoughts – late evening works best for me, usually – typically, I write offline and then when I feel it’s ‘ready’ I paste my notes to my Tumblr blog and add any hyperlinks and quotes that come to mind.Caveat – trying to avoid any interpretation/suggestion of ‘teaching grandmother to suck eggs’ syndrome! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. fredwilson

          What’s your blog URL?

          1. fredwilson

            In the words of U2’s first single, I Will Follow

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Cool. Thank you, Fred. That will focus my mind, for sure! ๐Ÿ˜‰

          3. StartUpJerkFest

            you better keep that blog online for 60 years cuz i wont have time to read any of it until i’m too old to work ๐Ÿ™

          4. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Lol, well, its longevity is up to Tumblr ;-)As for time – well, you’re a long time dead, and the graveyard is full of indispensable people.It’s necessary to stop sometimes – pause, grab a coffee, read/think and take-in the utter nonsense we call modern life.

          5. StartUpJerkFest

            what is this halloween stuff you speak of?

          6. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Zombies are the new Hipsters, apparently.

          7. kenberger

            actually, *this* was U2’s first single:…(Fred, i’m convinced you think I have too much time on my hands lately. #insidejoke)

          8. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Coool to prompt Carl – will visit!

        2. Anne Libby

          I think having a blog has a lot in common with having a relationship…

          1. ShanaC


          2. Anne Libby

            Your blog requires regular attention. You can’t phone it in. The more you care about it, the more time you’ll spend on it. The more you can put into it, the more you’ll get back — and you have to “give before you receive.” It requires your creativity, thoughtfulness, and even your love.I’m sure there’s more…

      2. takingpitches

        Same caveat as Carl :-)My goal is to do 15ish posts a month. But thoughts and how to say them come to me like rain in the desert — violently and infrequently. I can have a week of drought often because of other things going on in life, but when it “rains,” I’ll have 8 ideas to run with in the course of an evening.The problem is knowing when the skies will open. I keep a Google Drive Doc on my iPhone/iPad called <name of=”” blog=””> to capture the rain when it falls.I’ll consult that Google Doc when I need material to reignite a topic and get me going with fleshing it out.

      3. kenberger

        This reminds of the high power of commenting systems. And they have been exploding in usage all over the web especially in the last year or 2 for good reason.The text of this post seemed to tease specific big news being held back, but then the comment adjusts the expectation, and multiple voices help curate a more complete message than a 1-way publish model ever could.

        1. Cam MacRae

          Right on.

        2. falicon

          +100 (and for selfish reasons I have to throw in that this trend, and the situation you mention, also brings to light the need for ‘complete conversation search’ in order to get the full value and meaning out of anything you’re looking for)

      4. Tom Labus

        What about a “quiet” day or part day for reflection.

      5. Russell Himelein

        bet if you write in central park after a bike ride it will flow

        1. fredwilson

          yeah, i have to get back on my bike. nice insight.

          1. 30Hands Learning

            It would be nice if Siri or Dragon or someone new could record and transcribe thoughts recited while biking

      6. Rohan

        I find myself going through sudden stretches (that last a few days) when I find writing posts the previous evening helps a lot.Be interesting to know what @sethgodin:disqus does – I find his consistency (quality and even time of day!) to be quite something else!

    3. StartUpJerkFest

      exceptional as always Mr Godin.p.s i is enjoying your startup school podcasts.”the purpose of school is to have a reason to buy a Fake Grimlock lunchbox”.now i assume most of Seth’s message will fall on deaf ears, it probably will not make it to most ears. but to the ears it does make it to, those people will have a better chance for their kids to be better prepared in our changing world.for the rest of those who don’t get the message, that’s probably ok (for the short term). we will still have a need for an army of drones do to necessary but meaningless work, but eventually those types of jobs will be replaced by robots and technology (i.e. gas station attendants, tool booth operators). many will be become unemployable, because they don’t have a skill that is market wants to pay for, and that person will need to reply on government assistance to survive.when i think how the invention of the computer, then the internet, has changed so many peoples’ lives, made so many new careers (jobs that didn’t exist before 1980), and also eliminated some careers, it can be scary and mind boggling. but I need to focus on the opportunities, not the fear.good luck to you all!

    4. Rohan

      I find that the sooner people start asking questions on any topic, the sooner it changes for the better…

    5. William Mougayar

      Seth- I downloaded the book and gave it a 10 min read. Great stuff. Is there anyone any place anywhere getting close to what you are advocating?

    6. Wavelengths

      Sounds to me like Frederick J. Kelly was the Semmelweiss of education.

  2. kirklove

    Seth+1(damn you Google for ruining +1)

  3. jason wright

    what is BFS?

    1. Seth Godin

      It’s an alternative school in Brooklyn that hosted this TEDx conference

  4. takingpitches

    Amazing Seth.The compliance system worked for a certain time when workers who came out of primary and secondary schools — such as unionized auto and other manufacturing workers — could lead great lives for their families.Besides not being the right way to develop human potential, it also increasingly does not work for our economy.While itโ€™s surely still better to have an education than not have one, formal education is no guarantee of success anymore and will probably be less so in the future even for those who are highly educated.Perhaps there are some lessons for parenting here (as someone who is expecting to join the ranks soon and thus thinking it about more).Instead of worrying where our kids will get into nursery school, so that they start their inevitable progression to an Ivy League school, one might serve them better by instead or also giving them an entrepreneurial and seeker orientation, useful for whatever they ultimately choose to do.It is no longer the case that one can gain a single technical skill or learn to take order and assume it will be enough to sustain someone through his or her career and life. Those that can spot the intersection of opportunity and passion, define a vision, articulate it to motivate themselves and others to follow it, be persistent and questioning in pursuing it, and then execute on that vision will be best poised to succeed in an increasingly exciting, but turbulent world.

    1. StartUpJerkFest

      factory workers buy beer. eliminate the factory, and you put the beer makers out of business. butterfly wing flapper

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith


      2. Matt A. Myers

        It’s interesting to think that economy can simply be broken down to everyone doing jobs that everyone else wants done. This is where the creative economy mentality works.

    2. falicon

      1st – Congrats on soon to be joining the ranks!2nd – Agree with you 100%. For my own kids, I do everything I can to teach them to care about the details, but focus on the concepts. Time will tell how it works out ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Mark Essel

        Each gen another experiment in parenting :)My gut tells me your kids couldn’t be luckier!

        1. falicon


      2. takingpitches

        Thank you and +1 on Mark’s comment!

      3. LE

        “but focus on the concepts.”Can’t tell you how many times I stress that point with everyone. Learn concepts that way you can apply them in different situations or if circumstances change. One analogy I give is driving directions – having an idea of where the streets run and the numbering scheme is much more valuable then turn by turn because if you make a mistake you can still find your way to where you want to go. Another example is clothes washing. If you don’t understand that the point of the dryer is to remove water [1] and only learn “wash machine then dry machine” you have memorized a wrote behavior and can’t make adjustments (even air drying) when necessary.[1] And fluff the clothes of course.

  5. awaldstein

    I think change will come quicker than we think.Not because the educational system is self aware (not at all), but because the friction between traditional instruction in public schools and the culture of the students (and their parents) is too large and the friction too great for it not to.When just normal kids in the heartland in average neighborhood schools are without real prompting doing projects with their friends on Google docs (true example), these kids just can’t fit in that education box.Seems like an organized collective shove from those who really care, the parents, could topple the old sooner that we might imagine.

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      “could topple the old sooner than we might imagine” sounds like an ‘arab spring’ version for an uprising against the education system ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. LE

      “but because the friction between traditional instruction in public schools and the culture of the students (and their parents) is too large and the friction too great for it not to.”Yeah but you have that entire “military industrial complex” thing going. Large entrenched system with existing stakeholders. They aren’t going to go away easily. A problem not nipped in the bud (and this one was certainly not) is much much harder to reign in and change. And this one operates on many levels.Imagine what it would be like today to regulate liquor if it had not been done back after prohibition? Or if all the sudden realtors were regulated today after being ignored for many years (they are of course licensed so that’s my point, imagine if you wanted to start that NOW).

      1. awaldstein

        This is not about liquor, this is about peoples children, what they do every day, whether the parents feel they are preparing them for the world.Nothing is impossible when it is about you and your aspirations for your kids.

  6. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Wow. That is superb – must-watch viewing, for everyone.My own education was crap, for a variety of reasons – what little I have learnt in life is self-taught; it is what it is, good and/or bad.It fills me with immense pride that my wife left commerce (she was an accountant) to become a teacher – she went back to college, re-trained, etc – some 8 years on she still earns less than she did in her previous profession. But, she does an incredible job as she brings her business background to her academic work and has a different approach to those who have been in teaching/’the system’ all their lives. Her results speak for themselves. For all the frustrations she loves the job and the chance to empower kids, open up their minds, inspire them to believe in themselves.I’d better stop before I gush too much!Thanks for this, Fred. Awesome video/message.

  7. kidmercury

    KOOK ALERT: seth’s video comes dangerously close to echoing the views of many full-blown kooks (like charlotte iserbyt and john taylor gatto) who have commented on the education system and how it trains us to be a bunch of mindless, emotionless slaves to industrial consumerism. folks, kookology is going mainstream. it ain’t a fad it’s a trend!!!!the larger issue is that the public indoctrination system is “hired” by parents to do two things:1. assimilate their kids into society so that everyone fits in2. put their kids in a babysitting center while they work two jobs to breakevenfixing the economic problem fixes the babysitting problem, and probably helps with solving the cultural problem. fixing the economic problem, so that households do not require 2 full-time working parents, involves debt cancellation and monetary policy reform, to repeat what i say everyday.

    1. Harry DeMott

      Love John Taylor Gatto’s book, and of course Seth Godin’s talk. What is intersting to me is that it is very hard as a parent to listen to these things – which you hear and they make sense and you want to act on them, and think, what do I do as a parent. My two daughters go off dutifully to school every day, with their uniforms on, and I hope they are getting the best “education” we can provide for them, but even at really great private schools how they are learning, and what is prized is often the same things that I learned in 7th grade some 34 years ago – and the same stuff that my mom taught in public school in Queens some 50+ years ago.Collectively – it is easy to look at Gatto and Godin and say: Yes, I agreebut then what? What do you do individually?My own answer is to expose my kids to these sorts of talks, expose them to these sorts of books, tell them to constantly ask why, and give them as much freedom as they can handle – but will that be enough?

      1. kidmercury

        taking kids out of school and joining unschooling/homeschooling communities is what i regard as the answer, although this whole issue is still an economic problem: this lifestyle costs more. because the market is smaller (but growing!), services for unschooling/homeschooling are not as robust (but growing!), which compounds the problem.

        1. pointsnfigures

          that has its own cost/benefit economics–including the value of your time. Might be better to outsource it and hire a private teacher.

          1. kidmercury

            certainly — by homeschooling i don’t mean parents sitting at home with their kids all day, but rather providing an education outside of institutions. private tutors, small learning groups, team sports, all play a part here. perhaps unschooling is a better word.the problem is that there isnt much of a system that makes it easy for parents to jump on board here. also, its still cost prohibitive for many parents relative to the cost of public school (at least for now).

          2. LE

            “but rather providing an education outside of institutions. private tutors, small learning groups, team sports, all play a part here.”Who do you suggest be in charge of implementing, overseeing and funding ideas like this?

          3. kidmercury

            entrepreneurs, customers.

        2. BillSeitz

          Penelope Trunk wrote a similar critique of Seth’s ebook back when it came out. http://blog.penelopetrunk.c

          1. kidmercury

            brutal diss by penelope. but sometimes the truth hurts……

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      I can’t believe I have seen an inspiring and relevant TEDx video – still, it was devoid of PowerPoint and a Moby soundtrack – just Seth being as inspirational as ever.Like life, as per your posting, we need to question, question, question – and get back to basics to understand things better.

    3. StartUpJerkFest

      binder full of kooks

    4. Wavelengths

      I left this quote elsewhere, but you might appreciate it. It is from the Wikipedia history of Waldorf schools:”In the mid-1930s, the Nazi government began to pressure independent schools in Germany to conform to National Socialist social and educational principles or else face closure. By 1937, most of the German Waldorf schools had decided to cease operation rather than compromise their approach. In 1941, the last Waldorf school operating in Germany (in Dresden) was closed by the Gestapo, as was the school in The Hague.[7]After the Second World War, many of the earlier schools were re-established, and new schools founded at a rapid pace. A second boom in school foundation took place beginning in the 1970s.There are now close to 200 schools in Germany.

      1. kidmercury

        absolutely. in the US, it’s worth comparing home schooled kids perception of the country vs those of public school attendees. granted, there are a number of significant factors contributing to the divergence, but one major one is that govt teaches you a version of history that is very pro-government.unfortunately there are many parallels between the US today and nazi germany.

  8. Brennan Woods

    The big thing for teachers these days is differentiating instructions, but how individualized can these lessons be in the current system? I agree with Godin’s KhanAcademy-like approach to encourage self-directed learning at home coupled with guided deep-dives in class. This is a great video and one I’m going to share with the high school student I’m mentoring.

  9. Paul Edelman

    I think it’s also important to acknowledge that many teachers today (in public schools, yes) don’t teach the way Seth described it. They aren’t just trying to get kids to follow rules and become mindless consumers. This is part myth that I don’t find very helpful, and it devalues the hard work that many public school teachers are doing. You celebrate charter schools but one of the supposed shining star networks called KIPP is all about discipline and test scores. Hmmm. Choice is good but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.Paul EdelmanFounder, TeachersPayTeachers

    1. Seth Godin

      I agree completely about KIPP and also about the intent of good teachers. Alas, the system pushes these good teachers to get less good, and we need to ask those doing the pushing why they insist on compliance as a model.

      1. raycote

        Don’t teachers really need wide spread systemic supper and resources in order to implement theses progressive attitudes, language, tools and techniques across the educational system.Teaching kids imaginative/creative recombinant problem solving and synthesis is not at odds with reusable educational components. It just requires a more filterable more collaborative supply of interactive/reusable educational components.Where and how do we go about sticking that change crowbar into the present educational infrastructure in order to accelerate the process?Or are we simply in a position where creative destruction will have to run it course and nibble its way up from the bottom? And is that even possible given the big-budget bureaucratic nature of the present day educational structures?

    2. Andy

      Paul, there may be quite a few teachers that don’t teach using the methods that Seth described. However, these teachers are certainly not in the majority. I could name two teachers that didn’t utilize the systematic cookie cutter teaching method when I went through my public high school education. Luckily I think most people are coming to realize that the methods we’re using now aren’t working and there needs to be change.

    3. ShanaC

      Agree. Charter schools also don’t answer the needs of ESL students or ld students, or students from plain old crappy backgrounds. What of them?

  10. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Found this interesting but take slight issue with the work vs art divide.I think defining art as that which you enjoy rather than defining that which you enjoy as art is problematic.I spent the weekend with some Geeks at a Google DevFest where I learned a huge amount –… – I think I gave a bit too.Was it school – Nope (but school could benefit from it)Was it work – Nope – (but work will benefit from it)Was it art – Nope – ( Not unless you define art as It)What was the benefit ? That we benefited, learned, gave, experienced, appreciated and shared a space.So should school be like it – YES emphatically – Challenges, fun, hacking, learning, teaching, mentoringBut thats not art ! – Or is it @sethgodin:disqus ?

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      I like him, but he always seems a little too ‘TEDx’ for me – ironically, Seth seems more like an interloper there and gets the message across better/more passionately, for me.

      1. Cam MacRae

        I reckon they’re both interlopers; TED rarely excites me.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Agree. TED is a pretentious cliquey nonsense. Looking forward to The Onion’s parody channel going live, soon. The trailers look spot-on.Episode 1 appears to be online:

    2. Seth Godin

      Yes he was! Sir Ken and I are on the same team. He’s a starter, but I’m honored to back him up when I can.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Yep. Glad you added your voice. My comment probably reads more like a diss than was intended — sorry, mate.

    3. andyidsinga

      that was a seminal talk on education! of my all time favorites.If you liked that, here’s another of my all time favs : Gever Tulley talks about Life lessons through tinkering:

      1. Cam MacRae

        Brilliant.In a similar vein, Pioneering is one of the most cherished aspects of my childhood. Talk about lessons for life.

  11. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I watched an interesting interview this past Sunday with Sal Khan on CNN GPS. It was interesting to hear him say that the current education system is a product of a 200 year old Prussian system!! When you think about it in this framework, then it does seem ridiculous that education has not changed its mechanics in 200 years.

    1. Tom Labus

      He is always so great!There is something about his voice that makes the videos so compelling.

    2. Wavelengths

      This quote is from the Wikipedia article on the history of Waldorf schools.”In the mid-1930s, the Nazi government began to pressure independent schools in Germany to conform to National Socialist social and educational principles or else face closure. By 1937, most of the German Waldorf schools had decided to cease operation rather than compromise their approach. In 1941, the last Waldorf school operating in Germany (in Dresden) was closed by the Gestapo, as was the school in The Hague.[7]After the Second World War, many of the earlier schools were re-established, and new schools founded at a rapid pace. A second boom in school foundation took place beginning in the 1970s.There are now close to 200 schools in Germany.”

  12. jason wright

    parents are the school system on/ off switch

  13. Ela Madej

    That’s one great video. It’s the first time I heard someone saying that modern schools were designed to get people ready for warehouses/industrial work.I was intuitively thinking exactly the opposite. How come? From an experience of getting really good public education, I (naively) perceived the public school system as a means of preparing people for academia. It prepared ME for Uni and got me curious about the world so I assumed some people are JUST not naturally as curious & as hard-working as I am. This is, pardon my vocabulary, bullshit. I got LUCKY (with school, good teachers, family, friends etc).So people like myself have been thinking about public schools as a continuation of grand visions of scholasticism & ideals of renaissance… while the XiX/XXth century edu system that we “live in” now has little to do with it. It’s maybe a bit better in Europe where education is still less practical (ok – for good and for worse) and more theoretical. What @sethgodin is saying makes sense. We are taught to behave well, do things in a standardised manner, follow the curriculum and stay predictable.Parents tell their kids – “It’s school it has to be right, some smart people designed your curriculum. Who are you to question it?”Mass access = good when it comes to education and it’s great that public education was historically possible. However, if the consequence of “mass education” is a “manufactured citizen”=> not optimal. And we’re in the perfect moment to change the status quo. Mass access to some form of “smart school system” that could educate generations of critically-thinking, curious and happier people seems pretty doable in the next decades…

    1. Wavelengths

      You might appreciate reviewing the Wikipedia article on Rudolph Steiner. In 1919 he was invited by the owner of the Waldor-Astoria cigarette factory to speak to his workers. The next day he and his management approached Steiner about developing a school for their factory workers. That was the first Waldorf school.When I was looking for the right educational environment for my daughter, I found a statistic that said that for every 10 kids in a traditional classroom, the lecture/testing process would at best only reach the middle 6 students. The top 2 would learn and thrive no matter how bad the education, and the bottom 2 would never learn anything in that environment.My daughter thrived when she had a hands-on Waldorf-style learning environment, and she shut down in the traditional classroom. She passed her GED largely through teaching herself, and went on to study medical massage, where she successfully mastered a complex curriculum and graduated into a professional field where she is well respected. No thanks to traditional education.

  14. John Best

    I’d add that no-one is ever proud of schoolwork that *meets requirements*. As a child I remember that the most engaged I was with a subject was when I was discovering things about it (helped by my parents, the library, and the odd “good” teacher). The pieces of work I remember being the most proud of and getting the most praise for weren’t the rote/repetition pieces, they were the pieces where I was given a general sphere of study and was told to make my own project on it. The thing is, I still remember them today. The History project where I painstakingly drew neolithic flints copied from the library. The solar system I detailed from models and a book I’d been given as a present. The automotive project where I researched my toy cars. The geography assignment with thermal diagrams. etc. I always found I was able to absorb more of a subject by immersing myself in it, by studying the aspects I found interesting, and by presenting it in my own way. Seth would feel vindicated, I think.When the time came, we home schooled. Not least in part because I recognised that same attitude to learning in the children that I’d had.

  15. Susan Rubinsky

    Love this. Here’s my two cents: there needs to be a balance between rote learning and creative thinking. People need to learn the rules so they know when best to break them. A child who does not know his multiplication tables or how to write a coherent essay will be at a disadvantage because such skills form the foundation from which we connect ideas. Sometimes a child must learn to put his nose to the grindstone and force himself to rewrite that essay 10 times even though it’s boring to do so. Each time a child repeats such a task, they are building their skill sets that will enable them to connect ideas in the future and be able to communicate those ideas in the future.I agree that schools are “broken.” For years I’ve called them “proletariat factories.” They need to teach more than just conformity.On a personal note, my son went to public elementary school, a public charter middle school (my son also was the only white kid in his grade at this school but that’s a whole other topic but did provide an extremely unique social experience that I think will serve him well in life), a private prep high school for two years and is now back at a public high school. (NOTE: I am obviously searching for the right educational solution for my son and never seem to find it.)My son’s charter middle school was seriously focused on conformity but with the goal of academic achievement. Kids who disrupted class got in trouble for “stealing the education of others.” This school was seriously focused on drilling the kids into learning and, yes, a lot of it was rote. My son excelled in this environment. When my son showed an aptitude for math, his teacher taught an extra class after school just for him so that he could advance to the next level. And therein lies the difference: this school insured that kids learned the basics but also created environments for advancement based on individual aptitude. This is seriously lacking in “regular” public schools. Here’s another example from my son’s current public high school: he recently had 4 points taken off an Honors Algebra II test because he did not notate the math problems the way the teacher taught. Instead, he used another method — which he figured out on his own — to arrive at the correct answer. This is a classic example of how innovative thinking is not rewarded in public schools. Here’s what I told my son: do it the teacher’s way and THEN, if you have time, do it another way to show the teacher you are an innovative thinker. Do I think the teacher will get it? No, I do not. But my son will.My son is a very creative thinker — what I call “right brain/left brain.” But I think that’s the result of a combination of things: the schools he’s attended, the type of parenting he’s gotten, the experiences he’s had in life, and the lucky gene pool. As a parent I have always spearheaded an effort to insure my son learns the basics and to then provide as many experiences as possible so that he can try out what he’s learned. As Seth mentioned, given him opportunities for failure.Another issue that Seth mentioned is passion. Most kids don’t know what they are passionate about. Sometimes the thing they hate becomes the thing they love after they’ve been forced to do it over and over again. Again, I’ve seen this with my son. However, if we don’t force our kids to do things, even some rote things, many of them will just end up sitting in the man cave playing video games. Was it Pinker who talked about the 10,000 hours to become truly great at something? Not all of that time spent is fun and some of it is mundane. But the time must be spent to get to that next level.So, back to the question: what is the purpose of education? The purpose needs to be expanded. It needs to include rote learning and some level of conformity (let’s face it anarchy won’t work either) as well as opportunities for experience (to apply skills and knowledge). It needs to reward creative, innovative thinking, instead of punishing it. But that reward must not come at the cost of not learning basics. There was a recent op-ed piece in the NYT in which it was proposed that schools ought not teach Algebra anymore because kids can’t do it. What a cop out. Kids CAN do it, it’s just that no one is forcing them to do it and maybe no one is coaching them into believing they can do it.Here’s the problem with public schools: they teach to the mediocre middle. We need to seriously increase funding for public schools and change the way teachers are rewarded. If teachers are rewarded by the current system which does not value innovation and excellence then they will never be able to teach in a way that rewards innovation and excellence. Current unionized systems reward teachers for conformity and mediocrity and so then will they teach conformity and mediocrity. I don’t know why anyone in the national spotlight doesn’t point this out. Reward the teachers and they will reward the students.stepping off the soapbox now…

  16. Richard

    Fred : how about a big data series of posts?

    1. fredwilson

      that’s not my long suit

  17. falicon

    I think at it’s core, the challenge is that ‘education’ has lost it’s goal.In today’s world, what’s the *real* goal of getting an education? Getting a job? Think about what kinds of jobs our current system actually prepares you for (meaning the ones you *really* couldn’t get without the education)…are those the jobs and lifestyles we are all (the majority of society I mean) aspiring towards these days?When we wanted to be the world leader in manufacturing, and the world was much more top-down in it’s communication and power, following an assembly line system sort of made sense…but I don’t think that is or should be our goal anymore, and so clearly the system we put in place to ensure success has to be changed.

    1. BillSeitz

      There’s not 1 Big Right Shared Goal. Which is why *any* standardized/centralized system is the wrong approach.

      1. falicon


      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        But what are all those poor mandarins in the corridors of power going to do, if there’s nothing to centrally control!? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. JT

    I think the focus on education is important, but I think we need to place it in the context of other factors; parenting, prenatal nutrition, SES (which is related to it all). Education is very important, no doubt, but there are other things that we can’t necessary control through education policy. We tend to focus on the teaching and the school context, when something like parenting likely makes a significant contribution in the achievement scores that we use to assess the students.I think parenting is just as important as our schooling; our schools only control the school day, they don’t (for the most part; some do) control what kids do during the afternoons, what they do on the weekends, what they do in the summer, what expectations are placed on them by their parents, how education is valued in their family. Parenting is a thorny issue though, because there’s the huge specter of SES looming over it; when it gets to parenting, we are getting into issues that aren’t purely education/school system issues.So while I absolutely support attempts to improve education, I think we also need the other environmental factors (esp. parenting) deserve close to equal billing in this discussion. Something like achievement is subject to multiple influences, and if we are interested in improving achievement outcomes for children, I think we need to consider more of them.

  19. PhilipSugar

    The most troubling part is that standardized tests have become more important not less important. When you see teachers teaching for the test, and people evaluating teachers, schools, and countries based on standardized test scores it just makes you shake your head.The worst part from this American’s perspective is that what it does is take away our greatest strength: individualism and independence. It is like we are trying to lose by picking the wrong battlefield.

    1. LE

      I agree but it’s a gross measurement system because there is no cost effective way to account for all the granularity that would be required to do it differently.Look at what is happening with healthcare. They want to now tie doctor payments to outcomes and testing as well I believe. As if it’s that simple to do.This entire school of thought is what Meg Whitman practices. She had said “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Along those lines of course Meg would determine whether ebay was doing well or not totally by numbers. Instead of simply looking at the home page and UX experience of ebay and recognizing it’s a clusterf*k and needs to be fixed which of course a zillion people have said over time.)

      1. PhilipSugar

        I’m all for measurement. What I’m not for is tying a very complex issue to a simple number. Its stupid. Stupid to say quality of school or teacher is based on a multiple choice test score. Dumb to say we lowered your cholesterol by x points and that means your healthy. Put in a system to evaluate developers by lines of code or reported bugs? See what you get. Crazy to think that one quarters worth of profit accurately describes a companies management.Every single one causes people to engage in bad behavior, not good.Tie it to a trend, right? Wrong. I know that they give the first test after a long weekend, unannounced without pre-instruction. They give the next under optimal conditions and coaching. Think there is an improvement?Tying a teacher’s or schools performance to a score means that they are at the mercy at what kids feel like doing, and what happens in their home, both of which are uncontrollable.I’ll take the other side as well though. Tenure is just as dumb. The fact there is a teachers union that protects bad teachers is laughable.

        1. LE

          “Every single one causes people to engage in bad behavior, not good.”I’ve noticed in many cases the total lack of attention schools pay to anything that isn’t being tested or results in some “award” for the school or a particular child.I’ve been to school concerts where you can’t see your child because they have them sitting on chairs behind each other (not on risers). No thought at all into anything other than, what appears to be, “getting it over with”. When my daughter was younger I used to go to the “father/daughter” dance. It was really pathetic how little effort the school put into this event (from the lighting to the decorations I mean seriously who has all the gym lights on at a dance? And these are elementary school kids it’s not like they are going to put the effort in (like in high school)). I went to enough of these things (at different schools one which proudly displayed some “blue ribbon school” banner outside the school) to conclude that the reason for this was exactly what you are implying in a way. If there is no reward there is no effort (which is just a flip on the “bad behavior” point. It’s as if the teachers and administrators are so worn out, or so not into their jobs, that they can’t even get any pleasure from doing a good job just for the good feeling it gives them.Which brings me back to this point that I have made elsewhere. The idea that everyone in this world, if just given the chance, is wonderful and conscientious is bull. Most people are actually slackers and the only thing holding them back is their attitude. I know that they give the first test after a long weekend, unannounced without pre-instruction. They give the next under optimal conditions and coaching. Think there is an improvement?I love stories like that about how people game the system. It’s amazing how “smart” people get, like lab rats, when they need to. How the creativity just overflows when there is some reward or benefit.”teachers union that protects bad teachers”There are probably still a few cases where unions are appropriate. Teaching is certainly not one of them the way I see it.

          1. PhilipSugar

            I’m not quite as cynical. As I’ve said I think people want to be better than the worst at stuff that is not important to them. There are only so many things you can be the best.I am super happy at my kids public elementary school the music teacher there is on par with Mr. Holland’s Opus. The concerts he puts on with a mix of Broadway and Modern Pop Songs are amazing, even my son who was reluctant because of a speech issue can be heard singing songs around the house. He is a truly outstanding man. They celebrate him as they should.They game the tests because that is not important to them but they must to keep their ratings up. I live in the 1950’s and I think that’s better.My social views that we have made it not important for people to take personal responsibility for their shitty situation do something about it and not wait for the government to help them are not popular here.

  20. andyidsinga

    love the part about making new baseball fans!

  21. RudyC

    I think we can all agree that the public school system is systematically broken, that’s a simple stated fact. but is it really? Like everything else in this country the facts become clearer depending on demographics. 40% of urban youths in cities such as Oakland, and other poorer neighborhoods are NOT graduating. 40%.It’s too easy to just blame teachers, unions, school superintendents and the like. One of the most important ingredients missing in discussions is the role of the parents. Without the parents nothing else matters. Society will ultimately pay. I honestly don’t think there is a way to fix a system that for poorer uneducated whites, hispanics and blacks and some southeast asians is not and will not work.Ultimately they become an expense in the opposite spectrum, prison. In CA for instance, prisons have not replaced colleges in relation to public dollar spent.

    1. LE

      ” 40% of urban youths in cities such as Oakland, and other poorer neighborhoods are NOT graduating. 40%.””is the role of the parents”In most of those families, there is “parent” not “parents”. And then there isthe community and what you are surrounded by and what you perceive your opportunities are.So it comes down to not only the home life but also the neighborhoods and what it’s like to be immersed in a certain type of culture with certain values. That’s not something you can get beyond with education. When you see what your peers do, and what the reaction to what they do in the community is. And how it is viewed and accepted or not.Let me give an example.The way I was raised, stealing is totally frowned upon. I can’t even imagine having my parents find out that I shoplifted, stole as much as a stick of gum and was arrested for that. It would be a total scandal, a total disgrace. Spend time in jail? Holy shit.Now, substitute the above crime for one that is much larger, say a financial crime or insurance fraud. The way I was raised, in my community, that would be viewed much much differently. Even if the effect on society was much worse.What is acceptable to one group is not the same to another group. If you or I have a beef with someone we would tend to follow the legal route, not violence in most cases. To someone raised differently, throwing a rock or physically threatening someone to get what you want is no big deal because you are willing to accept the consequences and those consequences don’t appear to have a negative effect on your future.I’ve mentioned this movie before it’s on Netflix, “The Pruitt Igoe Myth” about what happened in a well intentioned housing project:

      1. RudyC

        I’ll check out the movie, thanks…parent not parents, that may be true for the black community but not the asian and hispanic communities. Anyhow, all I’m saying is that the US is continually moving towards two maybe three different communities…basically where moving into a 3rd world nation..and gov’t by itself is not going to change that..

  22. andyidsinga

    arduino mention for the win!

  23. Roger Ellman

    Many resources add to Seth Godin’s argument and suggestions, which I agree with. I think three essential books which relate to children learning are John Holt’s “How Children Learn” and “How Children Fail” and “The Underachieving School”. Also, the writings of the British author Leila Berg, both her fiction and writing about education. All published in the 1960’s and 70’s – we have been a long time awakening!

  24. panterosa,

    Great talk. I’ll watch again too.While teachers and schools often feel they want/are challenging you, they don’t want to be challenged themselves, as individuals or as a collective. Teach how to think, not what to think.As a non-conformist, I have avoided teaching, which I adore, because I don’t fit into school culture. It’s a shame since I am a great teacher. I’m getting around this by designing learning games and toys. The things I make will teach, and that’s the best compromise I have come up with.

  25. pythonliving

    How do we provide people the opportunity to be creative when they are working mindless jobs to make ends meet? When those jobs leave them exhausted at the end of the day, the worst culprit in my mind being customer support. More people in customer support get verbally abused on a daily basis, and then we expect them to go home and be able to think about being creative?How do we convince them that they don’t need to purchase more things when they are plagued by advertisements about what they should be buying? It’s not just a question about a shift in education, it’s a shift in culture.I understand what this talk is about, and I agree with the premise that we need to emphasize creativity and get rid of a system of measurement. That people should be hired based more on examples of what they’ve already helped to create. How do we provide our population a chance to move in that direction, if they are so driven to purchase and to make ends meet because they have to keep purchasing? Do we provide a basic means for living so they have the time to create?Sounds like a shift towards minimalism and moving towards a way to provide our population with the basic means for living so we can provide everyone the opportunity to do something creative with their lives. Sounds like fixing the economy is about shifting the culture towards an understanding of not needing as much, and how to spread the wealth.You can’t just fix the education system and expect everything else to figure itself out though. If you teach kids that being measured isn’t important, it’s going to infiltrate other aspects of society and our daily lives. I’m not saying that’s bad, I’m just saying it will have affects we may not want, things we can’t expect. How do we tell future generations that a measurement system isn’t necessary when we know it is in certain ways. I don’t think many people can argue against some food and drug regulations being important. How do we emphasize that those regulations are good while others are not?

    1. LE

      “How do we provide people the opportunity to be creative when they are working mindless jobs to make ends meet? When those jobs leave them exhausted at the end of the day”As someone who regularly makes it a point to talk to people from all walks of life whenever I can and see how they think (it’s interesting to me to learn what makes people tick) I think this idea of everyone wanting to get ahead is way overblown. Not only does not everyone have the innate ability to rise above their current level, but I’m not sure they want to, or even have the correct work ethic to pull it off.Not to mention the fact that somebody will always have to do the mindless jobs and some people actually prefer doing those jobs to having to think or have more responsibility.

      1. fredwilson

        sorry, left the reply on the wrong comment. editing it to take it out.

  26. workingman

    Ironically, this makes me nostalgic for high school. My high school teachers were (those that haven’t retired still are) phenomenal educations. Former hippies, they carried some of the philosophical underpinnings of the counter culture movement in to the classroom. I learned interesting things about paradigms (before the word was cliche), how they shift as well as ezra pound and how art will be informed of those kinds of changes before the rest of society is consciously aware. They also taught me about the factory model of education and encouraged me to question it. A lot of their ideas came from a university professor, Frithjof Bergmann. Anyone with an interest in exploring these ideas further should look in to his New Work, New Culture FWIW

  27. ahumancapitalist

    Saying the answer is charter schools is like saying the answer is contracts. What you really want are new models for learning, and charters are a vehicle–but not the only vehicle–for them. The paucity of non-traditional models is a problem of supply & demand, not just supply. If it were just a supply problem, fancy private schools with demanding parents would look very different from good public schools–but they don’t.

    1. LE

      I’ve spoken to several teachers over time who work in NYC schools. In particular schools with an underachieving student population in not so great areas (of both Manhattan (LES) and the boroughs). When I asked why they don’t try to get transferred to a better school, the answer was something like “to much work in the better schools, the parents and the students are to demanding, I’d rather coast here and not be under a microscope”.

  28. User K

    this is just a terrible set of incoherent ideas. Don’t need to memorize anything because you can look it up? please. Of course, we can’t memorize everything and we don’t need to. But there are some basics that students, kids need to know if they are to be effective. Do lectures at night online? pleaase. Kids need a human connection with a real teacher so that they can go to him/her and say “remember, last week in class….” Clearly we need to make better use of new technology in education. But do we need complete negation of past experience in order to worship latest and greatest gadget? NO

    1. LE

      “Don’t need to memorize anything because you can look it up? please. Of course, we can’t memorize everything and we don’t need to. But there are some basics that students, kids”I think Seth went overboard on that one certainly in order to make his point. There are many examples of professions where the ability to memorize information is essential. Surgeon, airline pilot, police officer to name only a few. Some people do have better memory than others, and there are definitely cases of professions where this is absolutely essential. School is a way to weed out and categorize people and push them in directions that are appropriate for their abilities. That’s not to say that improvements wouldn’t be a benefit.”But do we need complete negation of past experience in order to worship latest and greatest gadget?”It would be actually be pretty hard to design a system that works for everyone individually at an acceptable society cost. All in all, in the US at least we are doing ok. Not everyone is going to come out on top in any system. Not everyone can play ball for the Yankees. There has to be some stratification and weeding out and there always will be. It’s just a matter of where everyone draws the line.

      1. User K

        yes, the real problem is that teachers that we have now are underpaid in the beginning of their careers, which tends not to attract top candidates to teaching, and overpaid based on tenure, which tends to keep too many not so good teachers in their jobs too long. But that has nothing to do with the education methodology that we have. It’s akin to trying to launch a startup in SF but hiring only programmers willing to work for 30K a year. How well would that work ?

        1. LE

          “overpaid based on tenure”Tenure is total golden handcuffs. Not only that but it’s impossible for a teacher to trade their tenure in one school district for another. So they (and their spouse) are effectively landlocked to where they live.You would think that even if tenure was to remain there would be some kind of tenure barter system that would have evolved that would allow a teacher in one school district to trade places with a teacher in another place to allow the labor to be more fluid.”which tends not to attract top candidates to teaching”Is there any evidence that raising pay would attract people who were better at teaching? Anymore than if we raised the pay of anyone in any job that would result in a better outcome for society (police?). And are there even enough qualified people to go around if there is a pay shift?

          1. User K

            Well, if you pay people more but require that teachers be from the top 10% of their graduating class and say from a top 20% university in order to receive that extra pay, you should probably expect the candidate pool to improve

  29. Amin Palizban

    I really agree with Seth and his thinking. However, in my personal experience, hiring a college graduate with amazing grades from a brand-name university has always worked out better than someone that did not complete a degree. They are disciplined, passionate, self-driven, and do produce art. Even in my friend group, people that have college degrees and did really well in school, are the ones leading, creating events, and contributing the most to our social circle. And my friends that dropped out of school to do their art, ended up being more compliant. Although it’s counter-intuitive, somehow the people that were processed in schools (myself included) are the ones that are the real artists in my experience and have the passion/discipline to produce art. Maybe processing people does have merits?

  30. JamesHRH

    I think there is danger in Seth’s message & the breadth of application that he suggests.Maselow’s Hierarchy of Needs sets out pretty clearly that most people want to be comfortable and fit in. Using the 80/20 Rule, its likely that Seth is talking about < 20% of the populace, when he talks ‘interesting’.If we are honest with ourselves, the fact is that most people are not capable of creating something interesting.That does not mean that most people should not do creative things… just means that they will create relatively ordinary things. Look at the current crop of angel funded startups – a lot of them are ordinary.That also does not mean that most people can not contribute in a meaningful way, either. It also does not mean that people who are capable of creating interesting things will do so…..they may fail to deliver.And, the best part is, you can never really tell where those 20% who will create something interesting sit or what they look like. My favourite is JK Rowling – on assistance in 1997; top 10 wealthiest woman in the UK in 2000.That’s interesting. And it also points out the inherent risk in being interesting. Not very many people are up for the risk of being interesting.And, look at most non-NA school system. They are geared towards sorting the 20% who are capable of doing ‘interesting’ from the 80% that are not.Sort of Evil? Yes. Out of touch with reality? Hardly.Also, the ‘great parents’ myth is just flat out wrong. Some (not all) great parents do have kids who do well at school (and not just Montessori), but its a secondary outcome: great marks open doors & create options, which is what great parents want for their kids.They also want to teach their kids ‘commitment’ over passion. Most unproductive, interesting people are very passionate – they are just not very committed. Doing things that are not ‘a great experience’ or ‘interesting’ but are ‘required’ is the difference between passionate and committed.For instance, how many people in startups perform at an amazingly high level, yet do not do anything that is ‘interesting’?Hint #1: if you deal with customers in any fashion, ‘interesting’ is not a word you want to use on a daily basis)?Hint #2: is Sheryl Sandberg interesting, compared to Mark Z? Hardly, even though she may be 3x productive. And maybe just as committed.Even in the US, the world’s most entrepreneurial country, the vast majority of people are employees. Employees need to deliver. To do what is required. Delivering puts you in a position to be interesting, if you are capable of it.Or, another way to look at it: the benefit in memorizing the top 50 batting averages is showing how badly you want to be an baseball play-by-play announcer.FWIW, Bob Costas was known as a walking encyclopedia of stats, when he first came to prominence. Now, he could look all that up. Which version of him makes a better play-by-play announcer?Seth also completely skips the location where the value of ‘experience’ & ‘insight can have impact:a position of influence or leadership. How many of those positions are there, as a percentage of the workforce?The world is mostly about survival and certainty. RIght now, more people need to learn how to read than need to do something interesting.Seth is way inside the FIrst World bubble on this one.

  31. raycote

    We are also failing to modernize basic vocabulary skills!In a modern network based culture the organic complexities required to effectively remix and reuse all of our available social components and processes becomes by necessity our primary cognitive-survival-strategy.The organic nature of network based economies will require us to merge the programerโ€™s language of sequenced-recombinant-reuse into everyday language and culture.It is no enough to simply optimize our effective use of present day language. It is even more important to continually evolve the reality-mapping-fabric and efficacy of language itself. That evolutionary process pivots around continually optimizing the effective symmetry between mass linguistic-culture and the contemporary underlying environmental components and processes with which we must contend for our survival.(things like reality based political debate)Under network conditions, where everybody and everything planet-wide are instantaneously interconnected and available for reuse and remixing, that means linguistic strategies that elucidate and accelerate โ€œORGANIC PROCESS LITERACYโ€.Educationally speaking I’d make the case for teaching vocabularies that focus more on: ORGANIC(network) CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS

  32. William Mougayar

    I totally agree with Seth re: abolishing the multiple-choice exam technique. It’s such a cope-out for learning. After being schooled in the rigorous French high-school system, I was shocked when I first interacted with multi-choice exams in the American university system at age 18. It looked so easy and totally lowered the bar on what you had to study for.Multiple-choice is good for surveys, but not exams.

    1. leigh

      I’ve always sucked at multiple choice. At some point i considered becoming a lawyer but the LSAT were a huge problem for me. It’s kinda crazy. How can i not be able to get more than 65% on a multiple choice test and yet had a 3.7 GPA at U of T? Something seriously wrong with that.

      1. William Mougayar

        You’re thinking too much ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Montgomery Kosma

    As an antitrust practitioner who moved into tech and ops myself, I was intrigued to watch the entry and exit of Joel Klein in the NYC public schools. When he left, he expressed immense frustration at attempting to reform the system from within public institutions, and his hope that private enterprise could develop technological solutions with meaningful impact.(Klein’s Apology, while controversial, is required reading in this area:…. As part of News Corp., Klein has launched, but so far I’ve heard little about their plans, products, or anticipated impact. Does anyone here have any knowledge or insight to share?

  34. Isabella Fearn

    I’m a sophomore High school student and I have to say being a student Right Now i completely agree. one part that really stuck out to me is the Collage idea, that we have to put ourselves through this hard time to get the Name the brand of collage on our resumes. But something everyone overlooks is the kids that have learning disabilities for me its dyslexia. With my read and writing problems i am always and have always been forced to work twice as hard and twice as long as any other kid to get the same grade. The problem lies in education and special education. If i want to get that good collage brand on my resume i have to take the AP classes and the Honors Classes like every other kid but work twice as hard for twice as long. Which gives me little time for my theatrical art, the thing i love and want to do. I hope you will consider this issue. Thank you.

    1. fredwilson

      i am so pleased to see a high school sophomore leave a comment on this post and this blog.out of curiousity, how did you find it?

    2. ShanaC

      We’re listening. If it helps, I was an LD student once upon a time ( a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away). While keeping up is important, it isn’t the end all be all.

  35. Pankaj Garg

    The existing school system is important so people speak same language which is important for collaboration. Secondly, its natural tendency for the most to take the easier way out (greedy approach) or follow the successful model which may not be feasible for everyone. Basic understanding or introduction to various subjects is important for everyone so they can take informed decisions and so is discipline in my opinion..

  36. Dave W Baldwin

    @sethgodin:disqus good presentation and interesting batch of comments. To have true impact will require a lot of work. It is easy to keep education in the political argument niche and/or just sit back and speak of one subject and/or one batch of kids.There are those that have tried to make a difference ranging from Ignite Education, which utilized material from a few years back to my friend (one of starters of Ignite) who has a rocket building program going on in many HS’s throughout Texas to the beginnings of computer games.Now the big companies are going to push hard into the promises of education. But you still have to put together a set of goals, purchase abilities and the basic realism regarding these machines are simply tools and do not make you smart… but getting the child to understand formulas from outside the box to use to solve the problem would at least get us toward a bigger % with critical thinking.

  37. laurie kalmanson

    multiple choice questions, even at a great school, are part of the bright kid brought home a social studies test with a “wrong” answer that she disagreed with. the right choice was, “in an economy where there is a lot of trade, there is economic growth.” she was like, duh, if we just keep trading things, it’s all worth the same.i told her she was right — that the question and the answer left out the whole “adding value” part.if we keep trading a blue marker for a green one, we’re just being friends. but if we take the new marker and make a drawing and trade that, then we’re adding value.she totally got that, and we agreed that wasn’t in the “right” answer

  38. jeffreyyan

    We’ve been working on a tool that does this: “Measuring experience instead of test scores” (12:13 in video) at Take a look at to see how this university focus on learning experiences. Would love your feedback on this. -Jeff, Co-founder @digication