Looking on the Bright Side for the Future

When Jared Silver writes, it’s frequently thought-provoking, enlightening and worth considering.

This is a very interesting piece he’s written for Edu Surge that puts the argument that as the internet becomes readily available to anyone anywhere in the world, so, we are entering a new human revolution that will unlock human potential at levels we cannot even imagine.

EduSurge – The Impending Human Capital Revolution

His evidence for this is the rarity, historically of Indian or Chinese Nobel Prize winners – because the people in those countries didn’t have the same access to knowledge and education compared with those in more developed nations. Now that the internet is freely available everywhere, so everyone can have access to all of human knowledge.

The first issue I would have with this argument is that by no means does the internet contain all of human knowledge or even most of the best knowledge. I think we’re a very long way from that and will continue to be for a long time. For one, even if we think of new knowledge that is published in books. At most, people give access to snippets of it online in order to entice more people to buy the books. They’re not about to give it all away for free. Secondly, there are vast parts of the world’s population who have severely restricted access to the internet, with large parts of knowledge placed behind curtains where they are not permitted to go. Laws and rules that restrict access can all too easily be imposed on people in any part of the world, justified by nebulous concepts like ‘national interest.’

As highlighted by Daniel Kahneman in ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ there are different kinds of thinking (engagement with knowledge) that lead to advances in human development. Whilst the internet and ubiquitous accessibility might give greater potential for the fast and shallow kind of thinking, it gives little scope for the slower, deeper forms of thinking. For that deeper thinking, people need access to the kinds of written material not generally accessible through the internet (at least for free) and access to other thinkers and experts in the chosen field with whom to share thoughts and ideas. On the latter point, email and ability to ‘find’ experts has had interesting implications. I recall a meeting and discussion with Dr Howard Gardner in which he slightly ruefully acknowledged that today he spends a far greater proportion of his time responding to speculative communication that he receives from people all over the world who want to tap in to his knowledge and insights. There is serious risk that this heightened level of accessibility makes his work less whilst giving little benefit in the enhanced knowledge of those corresponding with him – considering that the vast majority will still only be engaging with him at the most superficial levels.

One thing that Jared Silver’s article doesn’t really make clear, is whether he sees this human revolution emerging because a few more exceptional people will be able to emerge because of their newfound access to knowledge, information and each other, or whether he actually foresees an overall raising of all intellectual levels of all people. If he’s arguing for the latter, I’m really not sure that his examples about Nobel Prize winners are convincing proof as these people are by their very nature the exceptional, rarest of the rare.

If you walked in to most western school classrooms (or those in more affluent private schools anywhere in the world) and asked students what the internet changes, gives them access to most of their answers would relate to social networking and gaming. There is a strong argument to say that, especially with its addictive qualities, the internet is far from fueling an intellectual step forward for mankind, but rather giving him new and previously unforeseen ways to fritter away life on meaningless, addictive and compulsive activities. This is at its worst for those receiving a lot of unfettered access in their youth when the wiring of their brains predisposes them towards addictive and compulsive activities that give them repeated doses of dopamine and other neural ‘drugs’ that have nothing to do with enhancing mankind. instead, like the Soma of Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ it dulls the mind, eats up their time in ways that don’t challenge or move them forward intellectually and keep them limited in their advancement.

This has become of such concern to some educators that it leads to news articles like this recent one from the UK:

The Times – UK – Your Teacher’s At The Door – He Wants Your Xbox

Some years ago i had the privilege to host as a guest in one of our Delhi schools the great economist, CK Prahalad (who I suspect if not taken from us too soon was destined to be a future Nobel Prize winner). over coffee before and after the event we had conversations ranging over a wide array of topics. The one that has always stuck in my mind was his fears and apprehensions for the youth we worked with. The new young elite of India whose parents were all too frequently the first generation in their families to taste real economic success. he saw them suffering from a disease he described as “Affluenza” – an infection of plenty that undermines motivation and drive when these young people are growing up with all opportunities handed to them with ease and lacking the drive and the need to strive that marked out their parents’ generation. Such a level of complacency is more likely to lead to short cuts than hunger to use and access all possible information and knowledge that is accessible in the world.

The workings of human motivation, drive and the inclination to purpose have been areas of fascination to many (Daniel Pink – Drive, Roy Baumeister – Willpower, Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). Just because opportunity is available to people, doesn’t mean they will take it, grasp it or see it as important. People’s aspirations and feelings of what’s possible or what are realistic and meaningful life goals are not simply shaped by exposure.

For example, ten to fifteen years ago, there were plenty of eminent experts who suggested that the growth of the internet would lead to new and greater levels of cultural understanding, empathy and recognition of common purpose amongst people of the world. The argument was that knowing people from all over the world, being exposed to them, understanding more of their culture would reduce fear, animosity and distance. however, as we see a wave of nationalism, protectionism and inter-cultural and religious sabre rattling, it’s clear that there is still just as much potential for people to be divided on ethnic, racial, religious or nationalistic lines as there ever has been.

In conclusion, the possibility that future Nobel prize winners might be more evenly distributed throughout the world doesn’t, in my view, automatically add up to a human revolution. Access and opportunity don’t change things on their own. Whilst i can agree that intellectual and knowledge accessibility may contribute to greater equity in the world, there is no rule that says a rising tide of accessible knowledge will raise all boats.

The Gentle Leader

Why do organisations exist? What is their purpose? What should be the ‘status’, roles and rights of different stakeholders? In the total history of mankind, the modern day organisation is still something very new, so to a large extent, we’re still engaged in a process of figuring out the answers to these questions.

The earliest organisations were tribes of hunter-gatherers where people came together out of mutual benefit. To serve one’s personal best interest entailed contributing your best to the group. Where necessary, there were traditions and norms in the group that enabled cohesion and a sense of duty and loyalty. leadership was often determined by lineage, sometimes by strength, size and simple power.

The industrial revolution brought very different kinds of organisations – far larger, more complex and with many more artificial processes to create the sense of belonging, commitment and common interest. There are plenty who are willing to say that the primary role of such organisations is to maximise value for the owners – everything else is peripheral. If this is true, then the duty of leaders is to organise all resources and stakeholders in the best possible way to achieve this aim of owner value growth. And further, those who are best at achieving this rise to the top and become the leaders.

We know that these things called organisations can cause some very odd human behaviour. For one, isn’t it pretty odd when we think about it that in organisations where only 13% of employees say they are engaged, all the employees turn up daily, on time and do the work they’re told to do, at least in principle. Further, we know from the work of experts like Stanley Milgram (famous obedience experiments) that the authority, status and title of being a leader can enable us to hold enormous and powerful sway over others. For those unfamiliar with Milgram’s experiments, he took subjects in to a lab situation where fake other subjects were required to learn and memorise random pairs of information. When they made mistakes the subject was required to administer an electric shock to them. If they showed disquiet about doing this they were instructed to continue by an official, lab-coated technician who clearly held authority in the lab. Shockingly (pun intended), almost all subjects in this situation continued to administer ever stronger levels of shocks to the person in the other room, even when they were screaming for mercy or even appeared to have passed out due to the extreme pain. They may have shown stress and anxiety in what they were doing, but all the time the authority figure told them to carry on doing it, they continued.

Modern society has many ways, right from when we’re very small, of drilling in to us the importance of compliance with authority. Whether it’s parents or teachers in school, so much of what goes on is about obedience, compliance and rewards and punishments are used continually to reinforce the ‘correct’ behaviours. To my mind, this raises some critical questions that i believe we’re not asking enough and where we shy away from the very difficult discussions we need to have;

a) As parents and educators, we need to challenge ourselves in critical ways as to our role and duties when dealing with children. Is our primary duty to teach them how to comply? When schools put ‘citizenry’ on the syllabus is this about performing a role for society that will make people do what they’re told, when they’re told, how they’re told?

b) As parents and educators do we inadvertently find ourselves acting as the agents for compliance with the small minority who wield the real power in our society, whether those are politicians or big businesses? Do we see frequent examples in our school activities and the syllabus that are actually about reinforcing, for example, beliefs that consumerism is a good, healthy and positive way to exist in the modern world? Do we, consciously or unconsciously, teach children that having things, acquiring things and joining in the pursuit of the latest shiny objects is a positive, healthy way to live in the world – almost that it’s our duty? The reality is that whether we like it or not we live in a modern society where if a sufficient number of us switched to consuming more for our need rather than our wants, modern consumerist, production based economies would hit crisis very quickly.

c) As educators, especially in the private sector, we’re fond of selling our credentials on the basis of our inclination to develop young people who will be leaders tomorrow. However, do our actions match our words? If we teach children in elementary classes that blind obedience is the only way to comfortably succeed in our classrooms, are we actually producing tomorrow’s compliant followers and obedient grunts, rather than true leaders? Worse, are we, at times, producing those who will be very good at ‘kissing up and kicking down’ who will form the vital middle layer that enables the vast majority to be controlled by the tiny minority?

d) Further, are those of us engaged in International education in developing countries part of an inadvertent process where we trade off access to greater worldly knowledge and exposure for the efficiency of compliance that will ensure that those countries don’t rise to preeminence at the expense of our own ‘Western’ countries current superiority?

e) If we are leaders in the educational domain, why do our schools need ‘anti-bullying’ policies? Is bullying such a ubiquitous and natural activity that we need a deliberate policy against it? Or, is that we create such awful artificially competitive environments in our schools that children’s behaviour is steered towards acts of physical violence towards each other as an unfortunate byproduct?

f) If we are leaders in the educational domain, how should we lead if we wish to have schools/ organisations that are sensitive to the needs of all stakeholders and produce a caring culture that provides the right environment for children to grow and develop naturally?

g) What, if anything, can educational leaders already teach leaders in other types of organisations? It already seems to me that there’s ample evidence that old style leadership ways of manipulation, sticks and carrots and force/ pressure are not producing the outcomes that the organisations seek for the longer term. I personally know that I had been trained in many ways in the traditional and conventional late Twentieth Century leadership approaches and style during my time working for a major UK bank.

As I transitioned in to the education sector, especially in Asia, I realised that I had to un-learn so much of what i took for granted. If I had lead in education the way I had lead in banking I would have achieved very poor results. In my early career I often had bosses who would ‘provoke and cajole’ me to be very task oriented. People issues certainly came second. Even as I was later encouraged to shift my position, it was conveyed that you needed to give people a higher priority (after making sure that you make all the top-down targets that are set). So, you get the classic middle-manager stress – you’re told to be a people person and to carry people with you, whilst being managed from on high in a thoroughly task oriented manner. The result, for many is phony people orientation that is actually more manipulative than caring.

So, having been thinking about these things (what else do you do with a four day Chinese New Year break from the office?) I was stimulated to write this piece when i read this article from Greg Thompson of Bluepoint Leadership Development.

Bluepoint Leadership – The Gentle Leader

In the article, Greg makes the case that the time of the ‘wolves’ is over – leaders who use good, bad, honest and dishonest means to achieve their goals and to meet the simple ends of maximising owner value at any cost in organisations. Instead, he advocates for a form of leadership that is far more akin to Servant Leadership. Some make the mistake of interpreting servant leadership as the leaders making themselves martyrs to organisation and people, everyone’s whipping boys to be used and abused. I don’t interpret it that way. For one, in the pursuit of the best interest of the most, there are times when a servant leader is duty bound to get tough with individuals who put their self-interest ahead of the collective needs. Also, the leader has a duty to lead the debate around vision and the fundamental purpose of the organisation. They then owe it to the collective group to address issues of individuals whose ideology or actions are incompatible with that agreed vision. However, when they have to deal with such situations, they must maintain the dignity of the individual and deal with circumstances with compassion. people need to be given reasonable chance to align, but the key is alignment to a commonly agreed and shared set of goals, rather than something artificially imposed from the top.

The rewards for getting leadership right in this age are more motivated and engaged employees, the fish shoal swimming in a common direction, less worthless conflict, lower employee turnover and a greater ability to attract highly motivated, talented employees in to the organisation.

Some fear that gentler, more collaborative and open leadership leads to harm to the interests of the organisation. Plainly, if a company has the scope to introduce technology that will significantly reduce costs compared to competitors, but at the expense of 30% of employees losing their roles, it requires a very mature level of understanding throughout the organisation to engage employees in a debate that sees them put the organisation’s needs ahead of their own short term self-interest. However, if employees in that scenario knew that the alternative was loss of competitive position and maybe even the complete failure of the organisation, they may see and understand the need. The compassionate and gently lead organisation provides support and help for retraining and job alternatives for those impacted and the level of trust is such that they understand what needs to happen.

Community in organisations and trust isn’t necessarily built in those challenging times. Rather, it’s built over the long time whether things are going well or poorly, so that there is a surplus of trust to be drawn upon in those challenging times.

In conclusion, school and educational leadership comes in all sorts of shades and levels of quality. However, I believe we’re now in a time where the best of schools leadership offers lessons and guidance to the leadership of many more types of organisations about what it means to build community, to lead with caring and compassion and to give a genuine voice to all stakeholders whilst leading towards a vision which is truly inspirational for all stakeholders.

Growth Mindset in Sports

Physical education, games and sports are a vital and integral part of a fully rounded holistic education. I also believe that for many children they also provide some of the most powerful and transferable experiences of what it means to be an effective learner. A child who develops a strong inclination towards a particular student quickly learns the natural connection between effort and outcomes – the more I train and apply myself, the better I become and the more success I can achieve in the sport.

So, as the concept of ‘Growth Mindset’ has developed over the last few years, it was important that specific attention be paid to its application in the area of sport. So, I was very pleased to see from this article that a book has been written on that subject;

Mindsetworks – Blog – Put Me In Coach – Growth Mindset in the World of Sports

Whilst I’m very keen to read the book, the article suggests that the writers have done a good job. One of the points that struck me was one where from time to time i’ve deliberately chosen to have provocative and thoughtful debates with teachers – how should children be chosen for school sports teams? All too often, the child with the high level of innate early talent gets called up for the team over the child who may be starting from a lower base, but who has the growth mindset and potential to work and strive to develop the technical skills.

The other thing the article talks about is the areas where sports coaches can sometimes have ‘blind spots’. Whilst they may pride themselves on a growth mindset approach towards the children and their technical skills and competence in the sport, they may harbour fixed mindset attitudes towards things like resilience, motivation and mental toughness. It’s important that coaches recognise that these are all things that can be learned and tailor their approaches accordingly.

Higher quality coaching that utilises and harnesses the power of growth mindset thinking can ensure that more children get more rich and rewarding experiences from their engagement with games and sports.

Behaviour Control

If I bought in to the idea that the right way to enable each student to fulfil their long term future in life was through behaviour control and that a teacher’s principle role in the classroom is ‘child control’, then I might be tempted to believe that Classdojo was one of the greatest innovations to hit the classroom. Certainly, plenty of teachers have been buying in to it, with enthusiastic support from lots of parents. These parents would be the kind (I’m not going to name names or even say in which school) who tried to persuade me to have CCTV installed in the classrooms and buses and to give them online access to the live footage – “so we can see what our children are up to during the day.”

Here’s an article about the rising use of Classdojo in English schools:

The Guardian – Good Day At School? There’s An App For That.

I’ve experienced Classdojo over a few months as a parent and also had many interactions with teachers who were using it for a while, and those starting to experiment with it in their classes. Most of the teachers with whom I’ve discussed it had very positive intentions. They talked in terms of reinforcing positive behaviour, encouraging the good etc. etc. However, whenever I talked with teachers who’d been using it for some time and asked the question, “which generates more discussion, the plus marks or the minuses?” their answers were always the minuses.

There’s the first problem. Like test marking, in the minds of students the avoidance of minuses (crosses) becomes far more important than achieving success, mastery or simply getting things right. As a parent I could see clearly why this was so. Human nature dictated that inevitably a day where my son’s Classdojo record showed maybe a single plus would pass without comment. However, as soon as minuses started to appear I inevitably felt the need to question him about them. He, in turn, would become naturally defensive and invariably there was some complex story involving others, provocation etc. In short, it didn’t provide anything of great value and probably was a negative for trust. After a while I became so uncomfortable with it, that I stopped looking at the record.

When it comes to negatives, the article quite rightly picks up n the potential issues regarding privacy. However, it barely touches on the bigger and more important issue – that use of such an app is inherently manipulative and seeks to bring about positive classroom behaviour through coercion and pressure and through wielding external ‘carrot and stick’ motivation. Does this really serve any purpose in the longer term development of the child, or just buy some peace and quiet for the teacher? Also, we’re not talking here about the nature of what’s going on in the classroom and how that encourages and motivates the very bad behaviour that Classdojo then tries to eliminate
or control.

Those educators in the article all say that the scores on Classdojo are a private matter between the child and the teacher (and their parent), but never shown in front of other pupils. However, I’ve even known educators to delegate the inputting task to a student in the class – presumably because the teacher found it distracting from the lesson activity (so what is it for that student?)

There’s a telling sentence in the article – near the beginning where it refers to “at least one teacher in half of all UK schools,” which is very telling about schools culture on this and many other issues. Individual teachers are given the freedom to decide whether to use such software, independent of their peers and the leaders in their school. When a parent admits their child in a particular school, don’t they have a right to expect some commonality, some consistency in policies and the school’s ethos on such matters as discipline? Doesn’t the issue of how children are motivated and the use of extraneous and intrinsic motivation methods come under whole school policies and practices, defined and riven by the values of the school? In short, too often, no it doesn’t. The values, mission etc. are all too often defined poorly, debated and discussed little with the result that each teacher can pretty much choose to define them however they wish in keeping with their personal ethos.

There is a need for innovation in schools and no question in my mind that technology has a great deal to offer in terms of enhancing the learning experience for every child. However, the tail shouldn’t be allowed to wag the dog. Children, their learning, development and their needs should be the drivers of change.

The Motivated Brain

Sometimes, teachers indicate that it’s a bit bewildering and overwhelming to be faced with all the pressures to change the way they teach; to differentiate, to personalise learning, to take on board all the neuroscience findings, to develop a growth mindset, to support the holistic learning of each child, to take in to account children’s motivation to learn etc.

So, today, I want to share a book that I’ve read recently that does a really good job of putting all this new knowledge in to context and shares a lot of simple ideas for how these would actually look when implemented in the classroom.

It’s ‘The Motivated Brain: Improving Student Attention, Engagement and Perseverance’ by Gayle Gregory and Martha Kaufeldt. You can buy the book online (or the ebook) from the following links:

ASCD – The Motivated Brain
Amazon – The Motivated Brain

A book like this has to go in to some of the hard science of the newer discoveries, but it does a good job of remaining practical, hands on and relevant for teachers. It avoids getting too jargon heavy or technical and is very readable.

Many teachers will ind that it take learning they’ve had exposure to in bits and pieces and bring them together in to a cohesive whole centred around the key needs of the student for motivation and engagement.

Well worth the investment of money and time.

Motivation to Write

snoopy writing

(With credit and appreciation to the great Snoopy)

When a small child learns to walk there is no end of motivation. There’s the intrinsic kind – the child wants to go where others go, see things which are too high from a prone position, touch things that others can reach and generally be a part of the ‘walking world’. Then there’s the extrinsic kind of motivation – every attempt is applauded, there is visible delight from all around every time the child tries, whether or not they succeed. Failures as well as successes are welcomed with equal glee. perhaps as important, the child gets to learn from the feedback of their own body. Nobody sits them down and takes them in to endless detail about balance, body dynamics, energy etc. And nobody sets them up in artificial competitions where the quality, standards and speed of their walking are continually compared and contrasted with their peers. What wonderful conditions for learning – should any of us wonder that 100% are successful learners?

Cut to a few years later, a curious and enthusiastic pre-schooler, fascinated to explore the world around them, to learn about it, to understand it and to engage with it. Arriving at school for the first time they can be forgiven for believing that this is a place that will offer them endless opportunities to explore, to learn, to satisfy their curiosity. But, hold your horses! We know where this story goes and we know that for far too many children the ending is not a happy one.

Even before school, when being read stories, seeing books, the child becomes vaguely aware that we humans have a way of setting down the thoughts and ideas from inside our heads in a permanent code that enables us to share them with an infinite number of other people. To most, this seems like a pretty cool idea. Sadly, they are soon to lose their rose-tinted glasses.

Dull as dishwater sessions in the classroom making the same letter over and over, colouring in pictures of letters etc. would be bad enough. However, then they go home and are made to do more of the same there. All the focus and feedback seems to be on finding the mistakes, the faults, the ones done badly. Negative comparisons start to get made. Other children in the class may be praised for how beautiful their writing looks. other children’s writing may be considered beautiful enough and diligently mastered to deserve to be displayed on the classroom wall. For some, the torture comes from being expected to learn the capital forms, the lower case forms and then cursive/ joined up before anything else has really been mastered. This is like being expected to learn to run and hop at the same time as the child is still getting to grips with basic walking.

As the child gets older they start to hope that they will now get to use this code to express their creative, imaginative ideas, to weave magical tales and to share thoughts and knowledge. However, when they get the chance to write, their freedom is wrapped around with all sorts of limitations, they’re still conscious that the writing won’t look as wonderful on the page as some other children’s and therefore won’t get the same attention or praise. Worse, when it comes back to them, their piece of creativity will have graffiti all over it highlighting spelling errors, punctuation issues and their failure to use paragraphs properly. What happened to being praised for the effort? What happened to all that motivation to share?

Should we be surprised, in these circumstances, if too many children lose sight of the connection between these endless mechanical processes and the perpetual obsession with form and their motivation to share and express their ideas, the thoughts in side their heads in writing in such a way that they can be conveyed to others.

I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had with parents of children between classes one and six/ seven who, when asked whether all is going well with their child’s learning, replies; “He/ she won’t write.” This sounds sometimes like a terrible damnation on the child. In the parent’s mind you can see the equation unfolding – won’t write – won’t learn – won’t pass or do well in school – won’t go to a good college – won’t have a good life – will fail to fulfil their potential.

There are things that can help (until we really get to grips with the processes in the school and home that do the harm in the first place). I’ve seen, first hand, the transformative impact for a child invited to orally tell a tale to an adult while they transcribe it, either on paper or to a computer. Then, the children were invited to select clipart and borders to decorate their writing. What came out was their ideas and creative minds presented in a way that was pleasing to the eye and that they were proud to share. I’ve also seen the wonderful impact from writing games and exercises that can free children from worry about how their writing looks. In such circumstances, all attention is on the creative use of ideas, none on spelling, punctuation, grammar or the mechanics of writing.

I write because I choose to write (sometimes a lot!), because there’s an audience. Yes, thank you dear reader – you are the motivation for why this blog grows and grows. You fuel my desire to share ideas and thoughts and to continually strive to do so in the most effective ways. Yet, for our children in school, all too often they feel like the only real audience for their creative writing is their hyper-critical, process-focussed teacher. This hardly fuels high motivation.

So, I share here an idea that I’ve shared with a number of parents, especially when they have talked about their children struggling to find the motivation to write. The internet, today, offers every writer a potential audience. For example, in the last twelve months, this blog has had visitor readers from 57 different countries!

This idea of writing online has been a big motivator for my son over the last 3-4 years. So, with his help I’ve gathered the following resources to provide a start for any student who wants to write for a real, live audience. There is enormous motivation to write something – a story, a poem or a piece of commentary and to put it out in to the public domain. Within hours, a student can potentially have feedback from peers all over the world. For a parent or teacher it’s a good idea to do a bit of research on the suggested sites. Some are limited to young writers over the age of 13, but there are a few that allow younger writers. The sites are generally all moderated so they are a safe place on the internet for your child. The contributors are encouraged to reflect on each other’s writing, as well as publishing their own. Some limit the amount each child can publish on the basis of points gained for critiquing the writing of others. However, these are vital skills in becoming a better writer and in understanding and handling the feedback that comes from others.

The links below also offer some useful starting points for the motivated student writer who wants to enhance and improve their skills, to hone their techniques and to attain higher levels of mastery in their writing.

Cool Tools for Schools – Writing Tools

Larry Ferlazzo – The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online

Study.com – 40 Best Websites for Young Writers

For those interested, I’ve written before and shared my views on the teaching of cursive writing. If you want to read – type cursive in the search box at the top of the page.

Finally, I finish with a confession – I am a motivated writer. However, if I had to present you with a handwritten document every time I wrote, that motivation would evaporate rapidly. I have ugly handwriting (the product of Primary School teachers who tried to undo my obvious left-handedness!). Thankfully, technology means I don’t need to worry about such things. Instead, I rely on your critique on the quality of the writing as it conveys my message and my ability to express coherent views.

Learning to Love Learning

I’ve long been a fan of Dan Pink’s writing, so had already made a mental note a couple of weeks ago that he had a new book out that needed to be added to my ‘To be read’ list. So I was even happier when I came across this article that highlights that education gets its due attention in the book.

Mindshift Article – Dan Pink: How Teachers Can Sell Love of Learning

As someone who drifted through a large part of my own school education disengaged, the issue of engagement is one that has motivated me over many years. Also, I’ve long held the view that our school systems are way too driven by external motivation. At times it really seems like both teachers and parents believe that, left to their own choices, children couldn’t possibly be curious or motivated to learn ‘the right stuff’, so there’s no choice but to coerce them along the way with various combinations of sticks and carrots. To many, the only thing to differentiate progressive child-centric more nurturing education is more of the latter and less ‘stick’.

When I see a child for whom the highlight of their day was a star written on the back of their hand, or a smiley sticker, it doesn’t fill me with joy. Rather, it makes me fearful that schools continue to produce ‘pleasers’, young people trained in the ways of blind obedience, compliance and conformity – I don’t believe this is how leaders are made, or creative thinkers. That a few of these still manage to emerge from the system is despite and not because of. We need to be developing our education systems in ways that actually develop genuine personalisation, linking learning for the individual pupil to their real world, to things that interest them and in which they will be naturally engaged and motivated to learn.

We have a long road ahead, but it’s a fascinating challenge.

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