One of the topics that stood out in We Are All Weird, is how Seth Godin relates the education system to a factory, just churning out normalized kids. He brings up examples of Richard Branson and Yo Yo Ma…were they good students Godin asks? Probably not. They were probably pretty weird, odd ducks in a normal factory right? They dropped out of the ‘factory’ and became extremely successful.
There seems to be a common theme against public education coming from marketers these days. Penelope Trunk has a section of her site dedicated to homeschooling her kids and shes also very outspoken against getting an MBA, claiming its a waste of time and money. Seth Godin is also vocal about higher learning or the lack there of. He even went so far as to create his own alternative MBA program, mentoring a group of individuals at his office for six months.
Mentoring seems to be both of their substitutes for masters degrees – I myself find it hard to argue against – but for kids who don’t have a clue what they want to do yet, isn’t public education a valuable use of time? If you allow kids to do whatever they want couldn’t they end up with a narrow world view or perhaps even un prepared for some aspects of life, specifically the social aspect? It seems that exposing them to a variety of topics (not necessarily forcing them) is a valuable experience.
This doesn’t take into consideration that a lot of schools are outdated and could use a revised program list(how about teaching kids about credit!). That doesn’t mean that they should be left to do what they want when they want it right? Fast Company even dedicated a few pages to people getting jobs in the tech industry without amazing degrees. They also of course included the star studded list of college drop outs who made it big.
Piling on, If you’ve seen Waiting for Superman, which is an incredible movie, they portray the public school system as such a terrible place. You can’t deny the stats that are shown throughout the movie but what about all of the success stories, what about the support kids get from their parents and families (is this the chicken or the egg?).
It seems pretty likely that there is a renaissance going on around education but is home schooling really the answer Trunk might lead us to believe? It’s hard to believe that the public school system is as deranged as Waiting for Superman alludes to, so where is the middle ground?
While I love Seth Godin’s position on advanced degrees, I don’t think he or anyone else would really argue that there is anything wrong with a college degree. Without one you are narrowing your opportunities too much. At the same time staying in the school system long enough for advanced degrees (specifically relating to business – not for specialized degrees) is too much and your net gain on education starts to diminish. So where is the balance? I think its at home. It starts with parents who take an interest but it goes further than that. Parents need to find the ‘Weird’ and provide guidance. It’s up to the kids to take the initiative and make something of themselves.