Stop Praying for Education Reform

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When it comes to education, we should adopt Nike’s famous motto and ‘Just Do It’.

In the United States (and probably many other countries around the world), it has become a popular pastime to complain about the state of the public schools. People complain about school funding, teacher performance, curriculum, class sizes, and more things than I care to remember right now.

And while the Gates Foundation and many other great organizations are trying to come up with new ways to make education delivery and administration better, the fact remains that education funding is likely to get worse (not better) and any reform is likely to take a long time to implement in the face of stiff resistance.

So what are parents to do?

Well, in my interview with Seth Godin at the World Innovation Forum (2010), he suggested that parents are going to have to take increasing responsibility for educating their own children at home AFTER they get home from school. The interview is one of many innovation interviews I’ve done, and is below for your reference:

But, I’ve been thinking lately that while parents may be interested in supplementing the education their children receive at school in order to help them succeed in the innovation economy (a topic for another day), they may NOT possess the knowledge, skills, abilities (or maybe even the desire) to succeed at this admirable task.

I have another idea.

It is time for us as parents and community members to stop praying for education reform, and instead take action. I’ve given you the WHY, now let’s look at the WHO, WHAT, and WHERE.

The WHO

You! Many people have knowledge and skills that they can share with kids. Skills and knowledge that will help prepare the next generation for the realities of a workplace that demands more flexible thinking, creativity, problem solving, and entrepreneurial skills.

The WHAT

Let’s face facts. Today’s schools are designed to mass-produce trivia experts and basic competency in reading, writing, and arithmetic (and maybe some history, science, and other important subjects).

But, to succeed in the innovation economy, the next generation is going to need to be proficient in at least these ten things:

1. Creativity
2. Lateral Thinking
3. Problem Solving
4. Innovation (of course!)
5. Interpersonal Skills
6. Collaboration
7. Negotiation
8. Partnerships
9. Entrepreneurship
10. And much, much more…

The WHERE

Our workplaces and our schools may be the most common places for citizens in our societies to congregate, but there is another place where we could come together to supplement our childrens’ educations…

Congregations: (a definition)
1. The act of assembling.
2. A body of assembled people or things; a gathering.

Now, the word is often used in a religious context, but not all people are religious (or even belong to a religious congregation). But, we have buildings all over the world that are designed for people to come together to study or pray together – or that belong to the government and can be used by the general public. We can use these buildings as gathering places to educate our children for the innovation economy.

Conclusion

We need to come together as societies and communities and fill the gaps in our educational systems that are unlikely to go away any time soon. We need to stop waiting for others to fix the problems and instead do what we can as individuals by coming together to solve this key challenge for continued prosperity. There is nothing wrong with ‘Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire‘ or those of your kids. We must do this now.

Who’s with me?

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