Seth Godin, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote a piece this month called “Back to (the Wrong) School,” in which he argued that the U.S. education system is designed to churn out conformist, obedient factory workers. He claims the system is an an anachronism based on 1920s industrial revolution thinking. He says schools need to be emphasizing initiative, creativity, and risk taking because countries with cheap labor are going to beat us at the commodity producing race. Godin is right that our schools need to encourage more critical thinking and less standardized testing, but sadly he like so many people in the U.S. doesn’t understand that modern machinists require exactly the qualities that he is preaching schools need to teach.
I talked about the blog with my friend Miles Free, Director of Technology and Industry Research for the PMPA and also a fan of Seth Godin. He summarized Godin’s naivety nicely. Miles wrote this back to me on Facebook, “A worker bee wants to do a repetitive task–actually those are better done by automated equipment. Or, they want to be told what to do and not be ‘responsible.’ In our shops, we need responsible people who are self-starters and able to understand what they are trying to do, not just obey orders. Seth correctly points out there is no value in either of those behaviors. But a skilled machinist gets handed a piece of paper with lines and numbers on it and sets up a machine, and creates tooling and then produces parts by the score. That’s value! That’s responsibility. That’s risk.”
Question: Do you feel that U.S. schools are inferior to those of other countries?
Read Seth Godin’s blog here.