The Definition of Insanity

Ah yes. One of my favourites.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

- Albert Einstein

If there was ever an expert on 'problem-solving' - Mr Einstein knew a thing or two...

This quote kind of sums up the antithesis of learning.

When we learn; we think, we do, we make mistakes, we evaluate the process and the outcomes and we CHANGE the way we do things when we try it the next time.

2 big things get in the way of meaningful learning.

1) Fear. Fear of making the mistakes and the possible consequences attached.

2) Ignorance. And by this I don't mean 'not-knowing' - no, the root meaning of the word ignorance comes from the word 'ignore' - it's not 'not-knowing' that is the problem. It's refusing to know. It's shutting yourself off from the feedback that is inherent in experience. Whether through arrogance or urgency, refusing to see and own what has gone wrong and continues to go wrong is... insanity!

This ignorance is what I see in the current mainstream school system in Australia and the US.

Sure, there are definitely pockets of brilliance - amazing teachers doing amazing things - some examples of these have been captured in Ted Dintersmith's book - What School Could Be,

But for the most part, I see parents getting ready, I see kids showing up, I see governments pouring in funding, all to a system that is fundamentally broken in it's approach.

Over and over and over again.


It's the kids fault.

One of the main reasons our schools keeps doggedly repeating the same approach is that there is a belief that there is nothing wrong with the system - in fact, the system itself is perfect! A seamless blend of timetables, classrooms, routine, order and a blissful atmosphere of control - and then the kids show up! Wild, unruly and disrespectful (shudder) thank God the system exists to train them *cough - (ahem/dehumanise!)

How many times have I heard - "Well they better get used to it - that's what society is like!"

I wonder - is that what society is like BECAUSE of school? Or is it school is like that because it suits our social structures?

Most experts now believe that the traditional institutionalised school system does very little to adequately prepare kids for the demands of life in the 21st century.(1)(2) Education demands have got higher - but to what effect? Kids (actually now adults) are staying at home longer and longer.(3)

The structure is set.

About 130 years ago, 10 University Leaders got together and designed a school system that would be able to produce large numbers of basic skilled workers able to thrive in the new industrial economy and the military. The subject definitions we now accept as convention were priorities dictated in the 1890s. Independent thinking. Entrepreneurialism. Risk taking. Disobedience. In the late 19th century, these concepts were unhelpful at best - at worst they were downright dangerous. However, now, these priorities no longer serve the complex and changing world of the 21st century! 'Soft-skills' like curiosity, problem-solving, collaboration, claim to be taught but they are trying to squeeze these new skills into an old paradigm that was specifically designed to keep them out.

We've forgotten the purpose

Why do we educate? I mean why bother at all? What would happen if we didn't?

The question in this day an age seems absurd.</