I guarantee that of these six, the one least afraid of anything is the student.
As we mature, two things become very important - change and control. We hate the first and love the second. This is true as individuals and as organizations. Take our education system - it began with apprenticeship, and the master’s need to create a successor. This is the most successful teaching model ever.
Over time, education has “evolved” into a hideous creature that cares not at all about children, creating successors, or even the idea of learning. Instead, it is about building a standardized machine whose mission is put bums in seats, and impose tests on those poor bums that measure nothing meaningful.
The public education system in America is the last place you should look to find evolved thinking or a genuine commitment to give our children the means to be successful as adults. Of course there are (rare) exceptions, some teachers and school leaders do try to give their kids more than our feckless system prescribes; they are heroes, and they are a small minority.
My very good friend Larry Rosenstock (CEO of High Tech High) and Rob Riordan (President of the HTH Graduate School of Education) just published a brilliant and inspired essay entitled Changing the Subject. It, much more eloquently than I could ever, sets out a vision for what learning should be, and what a school ought to look like if we adults genuinely cared about our children.
Less than a quarter of a millennium old, America has accomplished amazing things. But much of the credit for this country’s greatness comes from those of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The late 20th and early 21st century is a nadir - from the Baby Boomers to the Gen Xs, and now the Gen Ys, we have vilified change and embraced control. We have normalized and standardized and homogenized our way into insipidity.
There is a way to climb back up the mountain. Larry and Rob’s essay shows us how to build what our children deserve. It is time.
If we can learn from our children how not to fear fear, we just might have a hope of turning them into the adults we wish we could be.