Seth Godin’s bald head and big grin are global icons for fresh thinking. For example, this marketing guru already has sold so many copies of his books and magazine articles that he’s now more interested in virally giving away his new books. He calls some of them—like this new Stop Stealing Dreams—“manifestos.” So, in the spirit of Seth’s viral distribution, ReadTheSpirit is helping with this link to download a PDF of Seth’s new book. That’s right, it’s a free copy and Seth himself wants you to have it for $0.00.
WHAT’S IN SETH GODIN’S NEW ‘STOP STEALING DREAMS’
This manifesto is all about rethinking the education of our children to promote—well, real thinking.
Reading Seth’s new book/manifesto alongside journalist Mei-Ling Hopgood’s remarkable new, How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting, this week, one thing becomes obvious. Both of these very smart professionals, despite big differences in their backgrounds, are saying the same thing: American parents need a kick in the pants, not to make us feel another wave of guilt, but to free us to see the wonderfully creative possibilities all around us.
Read about Mei-Ling’s message in Part 1 of our coverage of her new book this week.
In a nutshell, here’s what Seth is arguing in Stop Stealing Dreams:
Every year, we churn out millions of workers who are trained to do 1925-style labor. … As we get ready for the ninety-third year of universal public education, here’s the question every parent and taxpayer needs to wrestle with: Are we going to applaud, push, or even permit our schools—including most of the private ones—to continue the safe but ultimately doomed strategy of churning out predictable, testable, and mediocre factory workers? As long as we embrace—or even accept—standardized testing, fear of science, little attempt at teaching leadership, and most of all, the bureaucratic imperative to turn education into a factory itself, we’re in big trouble. The post-industrial revolution is here. Do you care enough to teach your kids to take advantage of it?
POWER OF PLAY (AND OUR CULTURE’S THIRST TO LIMIT IT)
Both Mei-Ling and Seth are trying to open parents’ eyes—not to brow-beat us. One theme both writers touch on is play. Timeless global wisdom says that kids are better playing with highly flexible toys. Instead, marketing gurus (marketers like Seth Godin, to be honest about it) have found that they can sell a whole lot more toys if they manufacture them as step-by-step kits that produce a single project. Finish one? Kids want more. Toy sales increase. In his new book, Seth writes this about the Lego story:
SETH GODIN ON ‘HOW THEY SAVED LEGO’
In Seth’s new book, you will read:
Dr. Derek Cabrera noticed something really disturbing. The secret to LEGO’s success was the switch from all-purpose LEGO sets, with blocks of different sizes and colors, to predefined kits, models that must be assembled precisely one way, or they’re wrong. Why would these sell so many more copies? Because they match what parents expect and what kids have been trained to do.
There’s a right answer! The mom and the kid can both take pride in the kit, assembled. It’s done. Instructions were followed and results were attained. LEGO isn’t the problem, but it is a symptom of something seriously amiss. We’re entering a revolution of ideas while producing a generation that wants instructions instead.
THEN, Seth shows readers a picture of this classic LEGO advertisement (at right) and he writes: This is the old approach to LEGO toys. It failed because it required too much risk on the part of parents and kids—the risk of making something that wasn’t perfect or expected.
Dr. Derek Cabrera is a widely respected scholar on the nature of human thinking who spent years at Cornell. Now, he runs the independent ThinkWorks LLC that he co-founded a few years ago to more freely spread his research about ways to improve education. If you’ve heard the phrase “Thinking at Every Desk,” perhaps on a poster or a website, then you’ve already heard a bit of Cabrera’s Gospel. Seth’s new book urges readers to learn more from thinkers like Dr. Cabrera and encourages viewing of the 15-minute YouTube video that you can watch below. The clip is part of the popular TED series of videos.
Hesitant about tuning in for 15 minutes? Well, Cabrera is a creative thinker himself and you’ll find that his talk moves right along. Within the middle portion of his talk, Cabrera encourages two forms of thinking in our children. At ReadTheSpirit, we see obvious parallels here with our own founding principles—and the principles behind our new Blessed Are the Peacemakers project. In that section of his talk, Cabrera describes these two forms of thinking in this way:
Recognize relationships: To teach our children to recognize relationships between and among ideas. We teach the lack of relationships in education today. We teach in departments, in courses, in subject areas and in disciplines—and yet we know the world is a very interconnected place. We need to get our children to see more of these connections, more of these relationships.
Multiple perspectives: Everything looks different when you take a new perspective. When we teach perspective taking, there are things that are correlated that we all want: increased empathy, increased compassion, increased pro-social thinking and emotional development, even things like increased skills of negotiation and conflict resolution and spatial reasoning. Learning about perspectives is wildly important.
Why do these forms of thinking matter? Cabrera says this: Our kids are flooded with information. We’re all flooded with information in this day and age. The No. 1 thing we can do for our children is to give them the tools to structure that information in meaningful ways so we can do something with it. And if we don’t teach them to think for themselves—believe me, there are many people out there who are willing to do it for them.
If you started by reading this ReadTheSpirit story, today, remember to read about Mei-Ling Hopgood’s new book for parents in Part 1 of our coverage of How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm.
Care to read more about worldwide peacemakers?
ReadTheSpirit publishes ‘Blessed Are the Peacemakers’ by Daniel Buttry, a collection of real-life stories about the men, women and children who are taking great risks around the world to counter violence with efforts to promote healthier, peaceful, diverse communities.
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Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.