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  • good morning boys and girls

  • (mumbling from crowd) that was terrrible

  • you've learned how to do that from a young age, you're supposed to say

  • good morning mister Godin, so let's try again

  • good morning boys and girls. (from crowd) good morning mr Godin

  • have you thought about what that's for

  • have you thought about how

  • for a hundred

  • hundred and fifty years

  • that was ingrained into the

  • process

  • of public education

  • and he thought at all

  • as people on the cutting edge

  • as people who are interested in making school work again

  • about a very

  • simple question

  • what

  • is school for?

  • i don't think we're answering that question

  • i don't even think we're asking

  • that question

  • everyone seems to think they know what school is for

  • but we're not going to make anything happen

  • until we can all agree

  • about how we got here

  • and where we're going

  • my goal today

  • is to put that question into your head

  • and help you think about it

  • first we have to understand

  • what school used to be for

  • there is a woman

  • named mary yvette boule

  • and she

  • came up with this notion, she was a mathematician in the late eighteen hundreds

  • that you can use string and nails and wood and make decorations those things with

  • where the string goes back and forth

  • and there is math

  • built into that

  • and that a teacher on the cutting edge a fifth graders might decide

  • to use that idea of modulo nine and remainders and string going back and forth

  • to teach

  • an important lesson about math, so this memo went home

  • to all the parents

  • at my kids public school and said

  • we need help with this

  • we need hammers

  • so i'm sort of unemployed i showed up at school that day with a

  • bag of hammers

  • a big bag of eighteen hammers, now i don't know

  • if you've ever heard

  • eighteen kids

  • hitting nails

  • with eighteen hammers

  • in a little room

  • for twenty minutes, but i have

  • i'm not gonna do it for you because it's really hard to listen to it

  • and what the teacher explained to the kids is

  • they must arrange the brads in this certain pattern

  • hammering hammering hammering and make sure they're in there nice and firm

  • as so these kids are hammering hammering hammering, twenty minutes of zero education just

  • twenty minutes of hammering

  • and then

  • the teacher walks over and she says to a boy

  • I told you

  • to make sure the brads were all the way in

  • and one

  • by one she pulled them out

  • and threw them on the floor every single one

  • and put the board down and that

  • is what she believed

  • school was for

  • school

  • was about teaching obedience

  • good morning boys and girls

  • starts the day

  • with respect

  • and obedience

  • now i have to move on to frederick j kelly

  • some of you brought your own number two pencil for the quiz that is going to be part of

  • today

  • the number two pencil is famous

  • because frederick j kelly made it famous

  • back around world war one

  • we had a problem which was that ther was this huge influx of students 'cause we'd

  • expanded the school date include high school

  • and there was this huge need to sort them all out

  • so he invented

  • the standardized test

  • an abomination

  • and he gave it up ten years later when the emergency was over

  • but because he gave it up because you called it out because he said the

  • standardized test is to crude

  • to be used

  • he was ostracized and lost his job

  • as the president

  • of a university because he dared to speak up

  • against

  • a system

  • that was working

  • so let's try a little experiment here, i'd like everyone to go ahead and raise your

  • right hand just as high as you possibly can

  • now please raise it a little higher

  • hmm

  • what's that about (laughter from crowd)

  • my instructions were pretty clear and yet you all held back how come? you held back because

  • you've been taught since you were three years old to hold a little bit back

  • because if you do everything if you put all out

  • than your parents or your teacher or your coach or your boss is gonna ask for

  • little bit more aren't they

  • and the reason they will is because we are products of the industrial age

  • the industrial age made us all rich

  • the industrial age brought productivity to the table

  • productivity allowed human beings working together with a boss and a

  • manager

  • to make more than they could ever make alone

  • productivity makes us a car for seven hundred dollars instead of seven hundred

  • thousand dollars

  • in nineteen twenty

  • but the thing about

  • productivity

  • and industrialism is this

  • the people who ran factories

  • had two huge problems

  • problem number one

  • they looked around i said we don't have enough workers

  • we don't have enough people who are willing to move off the farm

  • and come to this dark building for twelve hours a day

  • six days a week and do what they are told

  • if we can get more workers we could pay them less

  • and if we can pay them less

  • we'd make more money

  • we need more workers

  • and so

  • the k_k_k_

  • went to

  • industrialists and said you need to get those kids out of the factories those

  • people you're paying three dollars a day

  • because they're taking our jobs

  • and so a deal was made and the deal was universal public education whose sole

  • intent

  • was not to tran the scholars of tomorrow we have plenty of scholars

  • it was to train people to be willing

  • to work in the factory

  • it was to train people

  • to behave

  • to comply

  • to fit in

  • we process you for a whole year if you are defective we hold you back and process

  • you again

  • we sit you in straight rows just like they organize things

  • in that factory

  • we build a system

  • all about

  • interchangeable people

  • because factories are based on interchangeable parts

  • this piece is no good but another piece in there

  • and word charts those little boxes

  • are all designed to say, oh we can fit bob in there 'cause rachel didn't go

  • to work today

  • and so we built school, that's what school was for

  • and the second thing industrialists were are really worried about

  • was that we weren't going to buy all the stuff that could make

  • that in eighteen eighty eighteen ninety people owned two pairs of shoes one pair of

  • jeans that was it

  • you don't know anyone

  • who owns one pair of jeans anymore, ever

  • what they needed to train us to do

  • was buy stuff

  • they needed to train us to fit in

  • they needed to train us

  • to become consumers and so horace mann, who meant well

  • built the public school as we know it and they he needed more teachers right

  • because you have more schools so he built a school for teachers and you know what it's called

  • the normal school

  • he called it the normal school where they train people to teach in the common

  • school because he wanted you to be normal

  • any one of the class to be normal and he wanted people to fit in and then

  • we came up with this

  • the textbook

  • now if you want to teach somebody

  • how to become passionate about i don't know american history

  • why would you give them this (laughter from crowd)

  • do people walk into barnes and noble and say i'm really interested in that latest

  • gripping thing that's going to get me all engaged about the civil war do you have one of those

  • textbooks in stock

  • if you wanted to teach someone

  • how to be a baseball fan

  • would you start

  • by having them understand the history of baseball and who abner doubleday was and

  • what barnstorming was

  • and the influences of cricket

  • and capitalism and the negro leagues would you do that

  • would you say okay there's a test tomorrow i want you to memorize the top fifty

  • batters

  • in order

  • by batting average

  • and then rank and the people

  • based at how they do on the test

  • so the ones that do well get to memorize more baseball players is that how we

  • would create baseball fans here is the key distinction

  • what people do

  • quite naturally is if it's work

  • they try to figure out how to do less

  • and if it's art

  • we try to figure out how to do more

  • and when we put

  • kids in the factory we call school

  • the thing we built

  • to indoctrinate them into compliance

  • why are we surprised that the question is

  • will this be on the test

  • someone who is making art

  • doesn't say can i do one less canvas this month

  • they don't say

  • can i write one less song this month

  • they don't say

  • can i touch one less one fewer person this month

  • it's art they want to do more of it

  • but when it's work when it's your job when you're seven

  • of course you want to do

  • less of it

  • so one of the things that i've

  • done as an

  • application

  • is when i meet people

  • i take this out

  • this is a great bargain online

  • and it's filled with these blocks, you've probably seen blocks before

  • and i say take four blocks

  • and make them into something interesting

  • now it's an interesting question because you can use the letters or you can use the

  • shapes or you can spell the word or you can put a profanity there or you could spell a

  • word that means nothing you can make the shape into a bridge

  • and people

  • hate this because

  • there's no right answer and there's a million wrong answers

  • they hate this because there's no dummy's guide

  • to how to make something interesting

  • out of blocks when you're thirty years old

  • and now

  • we're at a crossroads

  • we're at a crossroads because as a culture we stay the only thing we care about

  • the only place we are willing to cross the street to go the only thing we are willing to buy the only person

  • we are willing to vote for

  • the only stuff we are willing to talk about

  • is interesting is art

  • is new

  • will touch us is valuable

  • and then we spend all of our money

  • and all of our time teaching people not to do that

  • and so we're now at this crossroads because technology is here too

  • and the technology says, you know what

  • for the first time in history

  • we do not need a human being

  • to stand next to us

  • to teach us to do square roots

  • for the first time in history

  • we do not need a human being