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Letter from Lhasa, number 289. Stop Stealing Dreams

Letter from Lhasa, number 289. Stop Stealing Dreams

by Roberto Abraham Scaruffi

Godin, S., Stop Stealing Dreams. What is school for?, 2012. 

(Godin 2012).

Seth Godin

This work is a kind of Illuminist manifesto full of good ideas and inevitably partial as whatever essay on education. 

The educational system (as, for instance, the health system and the military) has followed the usual pattern of bureaucratic proliferation, exponentially growing without any connection with people and economy’s needs and without any real sustainability.  

Education is centred on obedience and conformism. Should and could it teach disobedience and a-conformism. It should, but how? What are reasonable doubt, risk-taking, bravery etc? Is it possible to teach them?

For (Godin 2012), school destroys dreams. Is school or life to destroy dreams? Can real dreams be destroyed?

For (Godin 2012), school should amplify dreams and inculcate passions. Can dreams be amplified and passions inculcated? Which passions, the passions of a teacher or professor?  

It is certainly true that competence be indispensable, however it is not necessarily enemy of change. Routines and a routinary way of thinking are enemies of change. Just do not put people thinking or operating in a routinary way in ‘innovation departments’...

For (Godin 2012), a great teacher wants to communicate emotions, not just facts. Actually, a person may be great orator, transmit emotions and to be listened with pleasure from his/her students and not to be a good teacher if one cannot transmit what is reputed to transmit. Manipulators and cheaters are generally skilful in communicating emotions even if, of course, not everybody communicating emotions necessarily be a manipulator and a cheater. 

It is certainly true that a teacher should coach. While it seems more doubtful that everybody could be transformed in a creative leader instead of remaining a happy obedient servant.

About the so-called ‘freedom of teaching’ one should define what precisely be. It is frequently typical of undeveloped and under-developing areas. It does not make them more developed and competitive.

‘Freedom of teaching’ can be a chance and a limit at the same time. It can become the cover to indoctrination from a teacher, because also where there is the ‘freedom of teaching’, or where it is claimed there is, there are curricula for each subject. Finally, ‘freedom of teaching’ is some ideological/political freedom while a teacher should teach in the most aseptic way, more concerned with improving student learning mechanisms, the cultural and spiritual development of the student, etc than with transmitting teacher’s personal (ideological/political) values.

‘Freedom of teaching’ became a great mystification of underdeveloped and under-developing areas. On the contrary, the previous knowledge of the contents of the provided services (a certain course, the services provided from a certain teacher or professor) is a consumer/student guarantee for not wasting time and energies in something not wanted from the student-customer. Even that is not so easy because a lot of people attend educational institution not precisely for knowing more, but overall for a formal certification where the need of eventually acquiring some skill and the parallel need of acquiring a formal certification variously combine. There are career advancements needing only education formal certifications. There are job supposing that at least some ‘technical’ education correspond to a formal certification. Various forms of learning-by-doing characterize working places, jobs, professions. Nowadays, formal education tends to be overvalued while there are other ways of acquiring and transmitting skills.    

According to (Godin 2012, p. 115), the hacker mentality can be taught. In a general way, everything can be taught even if it be impossible to know actually from whom and from what, and what is learned of what is taught. People skills and behaviours are the outcome of mysterious chemical combinations.

How not to agree with that: “Isn’t that our most important job: to raise a generation of math hackers, literature hackers, music hackers and life hackers?” (Godin 2012, p. 115). However, why to do that? A lot of people have no interest in excelling in anything or would like to excel but without studying and hard working for excelling.

Everywhere, there is a lot of courses and classes about personal development. They supposedly teach creativity and excellence too. Is it really possible to teach that? Do creative and outstanding persons really teach other people how to become creative and outstanding? Or they are just good businesses providing some positive suggestion and showing some possibility to unsecure or simply curious people.

Also States/governments sometimes declare they like and wish innovators. Acritical and obedient, conformist and submitted, but ‘innovators’. It is sufficiently ridiculous. They are absolutely ridiculous, ...while real innovators are regularly lynched and assassinated from States/governments and connected interests.  

The passion for something is not necessarily competence in something. One would need determination too, for achieving competence. Obedience could actually surrogate passion, if there is determination. It is not true that a genius be necessarily more competent and successful than a determined mediocre person. It depends on other various factors.   

“When access to information was limited, we needed to load students up with facts. Now, when we have no scarcity of facts or the access to them, we need to load them up with understanding.” (Godin 2012, p. 143). Overall do not assume that there be everything online, if you are not capable to find and use what you need when you need it. Yes, people need understanding and a way to build paths of understanding and for understanding. If facts or supposed facts, notions, are not inside your head too, it is useless to abstractly know ‘understanding’.  

For (Godin 2012), subjects connected with problem solving are not taught in traditional schools. For (Godin 2012), one should teach how to learn not how to become perfect.

Perfection may be an aspect of conformism, although it be a solid base for further achievements too. Real people make the difference. Perfection is not a defect. Perfectionism may be a problem while dealing with reality’s imperfection.

Universities sell degrees not necessarily education. Employers frequently need to minimize risks. A McDonalds certainly feel safer if you are a university student or a graduate instead of an illiterate chap from a slum. Goldman Sachs too.  

How to fix school in twenty-four hours? (Godin 2012, p. 187).

“Don’t wait for it. Pick yourself. Teach yourself. Motivate your kids. Push them to dream, against all odds.” (Godin 2012, p. 187).

“When we teach a child to make good decisions, we benefit from a lifetime of good decisions.

“When we teach a child to love to learn, the amount of learning will become limitless.

“When we teach a child to deal with a changing world, she will never become obsolete.

“When we are brave enough to teach a child to question authority, even ours, we insulate ourselves from those who would use their authority to work against each of us.

“And when we give students the desire to make things, even choices, we create a world filled with makers.”

(Godin 2012, p. 188).

You should also teach your children and student to become invisible because a chap educated in this way would be immediately selected from a CIA-SIS-military computerized program for being liquidated, perhaps even physically by a drone. ...Do not hope that a President, or a Queen/King, or a Prime minister, does not sign the liquidation decree!

Actually, everybody reacts in different way to indoctrination, to whatever taught, to learning processes and how to approach life. Consequently, education produces different results according to different people. One can create a favourable environment for certain values or attitudes one wish to transmit. Later, each student interacts in different ways with this environment. Or would Godin like to replace the current totalitarian vision with another totalitarian vision reputed as the right one?   

Finally, there is the usual question: who does teach whom and how? Geniuses do not become teachers... In addition, frequently geniuses are not good teachers. In the same universities there is a lot of geniuses. Generally, they do not know how to teach. Certainly, one could find some technique for making mediocre teachers and professors transmitting a more useful education.

And we would be again to the original question: who and what would need more critic and innovative people? Perhaps the spontaneous production of them is already more than sufficient.  

Godin, S., Stop Stealing Dreams. What is school for?, 2012. 

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Atualizado em: Qua 24 Out 2012

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