The Happy Future of Education

Posted by on November 14, 2011

Our system of education is built on the belief that learning is best achieved by bringing the best of the past forward through expert advice and clear example. Consequently, educators rise through the ranks like officers in the military: through compliance and conformity to the norm. But in this era of quantum change, are we really best served by imitating the past?

Let’s look at two characteristics the innovative leaders of today all seem to have in common:

1. They tend to be college dropouts. Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft, Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker of Facebook. Dropouts, all. The list goes on and on.

2. They have no fear of failure. Innovative leaders experiment constantly because they see failure as an unavoidable step toward success. These leaders know the truth about failure; it’s an extremely temporary condition, a fleeting moment, nothing to be feared. Failure is motion and motion is life.

Educators hesitate to experiment because they fear failure and reprimand. Consequently, the average teacher with 20 years’ experience really has just 1 year’s experience 20 times.

In the October 22 issue of the New York Times, researcher Michael Ellsberg wrote,

“Entrepreneurs must embrace failure. I spent the last two years interviewing college dropouts who went on to become millionaires and billionaires. All spoke passionately about the importance of their business failures in leading them to success. Our education system encourages students to play it safe and retreat at the first sign of failure… Certainly, if you want to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer, then you must go to college. But, beyond regulated fields like these, the focus on higher education… is profoundly misguided.”

Pennie had a fantastic idea while we were taking our morning walk. As she explained it to me, I realized her plan would make solid education more widely available, more relevant to the student and save a great deal of money as well.

“Princess,” I said, “if someone isn’t already doing this, they will be soon. This is the right idea at the right time so it’s highly likely that lots of people are having this same idea right now.

I was right. Salman Kahn (pictured above,) already has the project well underway. Pennie’s idea – and Kahn’s – is to harness Youtube to deliver 10-to-12-minute tutorials in an effort to fill the painful gaps in public education.

Stanford University professor Philip Zimbardo recently said,

“There is a disaster recipe developing among boys in America dropping out of high school and college. And it’s not simply poor performance. One of the problems is, a recent study shows, that by the time a boy is 21, he has spent at least 10,000 hours playing video games by himself, alone… They live in a world they create. They’re playing Warcraft and these other games which are exciting…  Their brains are being digitally rewired, which means they will never fit in a traditional classroom, which is analog. Somebody talks at you without even nice pictures. Meaning it’s boring. You control nothing. You sit there passively. Disaster. These kids will never fit into that. They have to be in a situation where they are controlling something. And school is set up where you control nothing.”

Video allows the world’s best teachers to be everywhere simultaneously. And if you eliminate the time spent for roll call, bad behavior, discipline, silent reading and working on exercises, there’s rarely more than 10 minutes of real teaching delivered during the average class-hour. Tightly scripted 10-minute videos allow the quicker students to move at 5 to 6 times their current pace while slower students are free to pause and rewind as often as they feel necessary. Everyone is happy. Everyone learns more. And the quality of education available to you is no longer dictated by your school district.

Wizard Academy applauds Salman Kahn and will do everything we can to accelerate his success.

I hear a question sparkling and tinkling in your mind.

Your question sounds like those little sleigh bells that hang on Santa’s reindeer as they paw roof-snow in the moonlight, tiny flashes of light and sound that pierce the hot fog of the reindeer’s breath as it clouds the cold night air:

“Does your newfound appreciation of video mean Wizard Academy is going to make all its classes available through online streaming?”

That was your question, wasn’t it?

Wizard Academy will definitely increase its video offerings of brick-on-brick information. But our greater energies will continue to be focused on expanding our selection of transformative classes, those immersion experiences that facilitate an understanding that can be gained in no other way.

Informative classes are incremental and best taught through video.

Transformative classes are experiential and best taught through immersion.

As David Sandler said 25 years ago, “You can’t learn to ride a bicycle by listening to a tape or reading a book.”

Put down the book. Come to Wizard Academy and your tomorrow will be very much different than yesterday.

Roy H. Williams

“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.”
– Thomas Aquinas

“The research is clear; if you want to be a happier person, don’t read a self-help book, just have happier friends”.
– Matthew Taylor,
21st Century Enlightenment,
a video on YouTube 🙂

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