Seth Godin, a prolific author and entrepreneur, has spent decades understanding education. The focus of his work is on how ideas spread in a post-industrial revolution world. He has authored eighteen global bestsellers on leadership, marketing, quitting, and, as he often puts it, changing everything.
In one of his latest articles, Seth writes about the problem of the current educational systems and the curricula they follow. He proposes a new structure that fits better in a post-lockdown society.
This structure, which Seth calls The Modern Curriculum, focuses on teaching students to make better decisions by emphasising critical thinking, the scientific method, communication, META cognition, amongst other useful life skills.
In this article, Godin poses a question as a conclusion, which I will present here at the beginning of my endorsement.
If you could work for someone who had these skills, developed over the course of a decade or more of public school, would you want to? What about working next to them, or having them work for you? Or dating them? Or living next door or voting for them? If this is what we need and what we value, why aren’t we teaching it?”https://seths.blog/2021/09/the-modern-curriculum/
The question is a meditation on the values that most intelligent people have found intuitively true throughout human history. And I will reiterate his question: Why are you not teaching what you value?
Think about this question as you Godin’s proposed curriculum.
I have copied it from his blog: https://seths.blog/2021/09/the-modern-curriculum/ and pasted it here.
The basic foundation is student-centered, self-directed projects. In service of learning to solve interesting problems and how to lead as well as follow. And to support that, the “courses” are practical tools students can use on their projects.Seth Godin
Statistics–seeing the world around us clearly and understanding nuance, analog results and taxometrics (learning how to sort like with like). Realizing that everyone and everything doesn’t fit into a simple box. Learning to see the danger of false labels and propaganda, and the power of seeing how things are actually distributed.
Games–finite and infinite, poker, algorithms, business structures, interpersonal relationships, negotiation, why they work and when they don’t. We all play them, even when they’re not called games.
Communication–listening and speaking, reading and writing, presentations, critical examination and empathy. Can you read for content? Can you write to be understood? Can you stand up and express yourself, and sit still and listen to someone else who is working to be heard? What happens when we realize that no one is exactly like us?
History and propaganda–what happened and how we talk about it. More why than when. The fundamental currents of human events over time.
Citizenship–Participating, leading, asking and answering good questions. As a voter, but also as a participant in any organization.
Real skills–Hard to measure things like honesty, perseverance, empathy, keeping promises, trust, charisma, curiosity, problem solving and humor.
The scientific method–understanding what we know and figuring out how to discover the next thing. Learning to do the reading and show your work. There’s no point in memorizing the Krebs Cycle.
Programming–thinking in ways that a computer can help you with. From Excel and Photoshop to C++.
Art–expressing yourself with passion and consistency and a point of view. Not because it’s your job, but because you can and because it matters. Appreciating the art that has come before and creating your own, in whatever form that takes.
Decision-making–using the rest of the skills above to make better choices.
Meta-cognition–thinking about thinking, creating habits with intention.
As you might have noticed, the theme of Seth’s curriculum is critical thinking and better decision making. The first point, statistics, is about teaching students how to distinguish right from wrong information and in that, it offers a tool to combat misinformation and disinformation. It explicitly attempts to teach students how to see the danger of false labels and propaganda, and the power of seeing how bad information spreads.
That same point explicitly points to the importance of “Realizing that everyone and everything doesn’t fit into a simple box,” something that I insist on my article The Aeroplane Problem: Why statistics are only a starting point in research
These are all ideas this Devil is in love with.
Seth’s structure offers the possibility for a better, more balanced society in which humans know how to handle the power of information and use it for more ecological outcomes.
Give the article a read; better still, read as much as you can from Seth Godin. Many would say he’s doing God’s work, but when you think about it, he’s doing mine.
I leave you some of his wisdom to consider.
“It’s been a century of biology, chemistry, arithmetic, social studies and the rest. So long that the foundational building blocks are seen as a given, unquestioned and unimproved. The very structure of the curriculum actually prevents school from working as it should.”Seth Godin
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