“If something that seems like work to other people doesn’t seem like work to you, that’s something you’re well suited for.” –Paul Graham
“When you do the work that others can’t possibly imagine doing, you set yourself apart.” –Seth Godin
“Along the way, we’ve come to believe that external motivation is the key to our success. That we need to be part of a degree program or a sales contest or have a boss looking over our shoulder to do our best work, to push us.”
Seth Godin writes:
What will you do next?
What can you learn tomorrow?
Where will you live, who will you connect with, who will you trust?
Are questions better than answers? Maybe it’s easier to get a dummies book, a tweet or a checklist than it is to think hard about what’s next…
It’s certainly easier to go shopping. And easier still to buy what everyone else is buying.
We live in an extraordinary moment, with countless degrees of freedom. The instant and effortless connection to a billion people changes everything, but instead, we’re paralyzed with fear, a fear so widespread that you might not even notice it.
We have more choices, more options and more resources than any generation, ever.
Is School Enough? (PBS, coming fall 2013)
– Tim Draper — “Why don’t schools teach more doing things?” “We don’t teach history, we teach future.”
– Seth Godin likes to say a resume is kinda useless and it is better to directly focus on projects/accomplishments. Fair enough, but a resume can do that. LINK
– I believe I have also commented here at least a few times about interesting (to me!) projects people could work if they had some spare time. Lots of things to learn and do with respect to solar air heating. And insulation. Both have very active communities on the web and some very good books to learn from as well. Another recent mention was compiling stats on education costs more clearly in each state to expand on the work the Cato Institute has done. google: “How Transparent Is Your State’s Department of Education?”
I am not a fan of standardized testing in schools.
But that doesn’t mean I am necessarily against a Multiple Choice exam/test/quiz. That’s 2 different things. I’m not sure what Seth Godin’s point is exactly. I guess he’s complaining about bad tests and bad teachers. OK, but…
If one *CHOOSES* to pursue a course of study (whether training to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, auto-repair technician, software or hardware expert, etc) then why not a multiple choice test or quiz along the way. Totally appropriate. If you are looking to be certified. I am glad that there are multiple choice tests for getting driving (and boat driving) licenses. Etc. etc.
I’m sure lots of MC tests are bad. But lots are good or just fine. As with anything I guess… it depends.
2 interesting examples:
1) There are online testing/quizzing systems used for teaching (not just assessing) that have (as part of it)
multiple choice questions with instant customized feedback
depending on which wrong answer you choose–focusing the explanation on
the misconception that may have lead you to the wrong answer.
example: OWL http://althea.cs.umass.edu/bpw/owl.html
(I believe there is research that shows that for learning… it’s the instant and customized feedback that matters. Disclaimer. I worked on OWL back in 1996)
2) And there are systems for use in large classrooms (like a big university lecture)
called SRSs (student response systems) that allow a 300-person lecture
to be operated more like a 30-person classroom in that the prof/teacher/instructor is able
to access in aggregate (via MC questions answered by the 300 via clickers) what the thinking of the class is. Are they following? Misconceptions? etc. Granted, you could probably do the same with a lower tech show of hands, but the MC aspect remains useful.
I am of course open to seeing studies (or hearing stories) showing that both are flops! Both seemed pretty OK when I experienced them first hand in the hands of expert teachers really thinking about teaching concepts to motivated and engaged students and not just pushing facts on uninterested students.
As long as the person chooses what they are studying, I am good!
Sudbury Valley School gets a mention in Seth Godin’s eBook “Stop Stealing Dreams” (2012).
Seth, your kids would love SVS!
Here is the excerpt:
The Sudbury Valley School was founded during the hippie generation, and has
survived and thrived as an independent school for forty years. From their
“The way we saw it, responsibility means that each person has
to carry the ball for himself. You, and you alone, must make
your decisions, and you must live with them. No one should
be thinking for you, and no one should be protecting you
from the consequences of your actions. This, we felt, is essential
if you want to be independent, self-directed, and the
master of your own destiny.”
While this is easy to dismiss as hype or pabulum, what if it’s true? What if you
actually built a school from the ground up with this as its core idea, not just
window dressing? This is precisely what they did.
Students ask for teachers when they wish. They play soccer if they choose. They
take responsibility for everything they do and learn, from the age of six. And it
If a school is seen as a place for encouragement and truth-telling, a place where
students go to find their passion and then achieve their goals, it is not a school we
would generally recognize, because our schools do none of this.
Also mentioned at the end is a book co-authored by Daniel Greenberg, a co-founder and current staff member at SVS.
“133.Bibliography and further reading … “Turning Learning Right Side Up” by Russell Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg”
One comment about the “founded during the hippie generation” lead in above. I don’t know if it was Seth’s intention to characterize the school as being a “hippie school” because, really, as a parent of a student who has been there 4 years, my comment is that the student population is incredibly diverse. There is no one type of student or family who sees the appeal of the Sudbury Valley School or any of the few dozen Sudbury Model schools world-wide. It’s a huge mix. The school was founded in 1968 and has been going strong for over 40 years.