I’ve been following Mr. Godin’s blog for a few years now. I was originally introduced to him by a former classmate during my master courses; I found myself immediately intrigued by his quick, yet insightful, blurbs about marketing, business, and life in general. (See for yourself here.)
Godin very recently self-published an education manifesto entitled Stop Stealing Dreams. It is a self-described rant over how outdated our current public education system is (he takes a jab at private schools as well), but unlike many other rants, he is not intending to demoralize the stakeholders. Legislators anyone? Rather, Godin breaks his book into several miniature “blog” posts and numbers them for ease of speaking to or arguing individual points. I highly, highly recommend you reading the entire manifesto! It’s free.
Here is a small blurb that I found exceptional, and one a I think every American invested in our education systems should know/read:
10.Frederick J. Kelly and your nightmares
In 1914, a professor in Kansas invented the multiple-choice test. Yes, it’s less
than a hundred years old.
There was an emergency on. World War I was ramping up, hundreds of thousands of new immigrants needed to be processed and educated, and factories
were hungry for workers. The government had just made two years of high
school mandatory, and we needed a temporary, high-efficiency way to sort
students and quickly assign them to appropriate slots.
In the words of Professor Kelly, “This is a test of lower order thinking for the
A few years later, as President of the University of Idaho, Kelly disowned the
idea, pointing out that it was an appropriate method to test only a tiny portion of
what is actually taught and should be abandoned. The industrialists and the mass
educators revolted and he was fired.
The SAT, the single most important filtering device used to measure the effect of
school on each individual, is based (almost without change) on Kelly’s lowerorder thinking test. Still.
The reason is simple. Not because it works. No, we do it because it’s the easy and
efficient way to keep the mass production of students moving forward.
I admittedly came out of my undergraduate as what I refer to as a ‘sheep’ educator. Believing in all the theories and believing, to a degree, in the system already in place. As I have grown as a teacher and a person, I’ve had to face an ugly truth–the system isn’t working. My attempts to change the status quo in my project-based learning classroom are what continue to inspire me to want to see change as well. We’ve convinced ourselves, students, parents, and politicians alike that standardized testing is how we best mass commute our students into greatness. How terribly, terribly, wrong we all are. I couldn’t agree with Mr. Godin more. We are no longer a country of factory workers, so how can we continue to educate as through we are and expect different results?
A most humble thank you to Seth Godin for willingly sharing his manifesto freely.