Thanks to a recommendation from a district staff developer I just finished reading Linchpin: Are You Indispensible? by Seth Godin . I’m recommending it for your reading. Here are a few of the statements I highlighted as I read with my comments added.
“The problem is that most schools don’t like great teachers. They’re organized to stamp them out, bore them, bureaucratize them, and make them average.” (pg 29)
Godin uses the term artist to describe indispensible people who do remarkable things. Many students need their teacher to be remarkable. Administrators and coaches should work with teachers to find their voice and spirit in their teaching. Teachers’ individual insights and connections to their students are critical to bringing out student’s artistry.
“The Boss’s Lie…What I want is someone who will do exactly what I tell them to do. What I want is someone who shows up on time and doesn’t give me a hard time…How come the stars in the company don’t follow these rules? (pg 37)
As I read this piece I kept thinking that in many schools and classrooms we have rules that are lies. We suggest that success comes from following the rules.
Signs in elementary schools frequently say, “Always raise your hand.” Yet my observations often show teachers rewarding outspoken students who bring interesting comments or questions into the discussion.
“Being good at school is a fine skill if you intend to be in school forever…It’s nice, but it’s not relevant unless your career involves homework assignments, looking through textbooks for answers that are already known to your supervisors, complying with instructions and then, in high-pressure settings, regurgitating those facts with limited processing on your part…What they should teach in school…only two things: 1. Solve interesting problems. 2. Lead”. (pg 47)
Godin’s two things match closely with 21st Century’s Partnerships 4Cs – critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation. And, with concerns in recent reports identifying that American creativity scores are falling as Newsweek reported:
Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”
Are too many elementary students playing school with the wrong rules?
Tapping their own creativity is essential for teachers to create classrooms where students are practicing solving problems and leading. Those kinds of learning options don’t come from textbooks and teachers’ editions.
“Every successful organization is built around people. Humans who do art. People who interact with other people. Men and woman who don’t merely shuffle money, but interact, give gifts, and connect.” (Pg 235)
To coach teachers as artists who do remarkable things, coaches and administrators must function as artists too…giving gifts to staff who give gifts to students.