And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there’s doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Organized education as a whole seems to have become about narrowing things down, putting each person in as small a box as possible. From grades to subjects to majors, the focus is on narrowing and limiting.

Somehow the idea that all students should know the same things and be exposed to the same experiences has become seen as a good idea. It’s become synonymous with the idea of equality in education.

I’m saying that education ought not be equal, it ought to be individualized. Education ought to help people find their paths, find, focus and hone their own innate talents and interests. I’m not laying all of this responsibility at education’s feet but we have students for 12 or 16 years. 12-16 years. Surely we can do a better job helping students figure out who they are and how they might fit into the world. School shouldn’t be an extended test to see how long you’re willing to do BS work.

My own prediction into the future is that most people won’t be able to keep jobs they aren’t passionate about. It seems there are too many forces that will let those jobs go elsewhere and be done for less (or by machines)1.

Schools need to help students find their passions and develop the skills to let them turn those passions into lives. This isn’t about doing what’s best for corporations. Clearly corporations don’t give a damn about our country or the world. Their focus is profit. 2

Our focus ought to be creating people who can become powerful participants in this world on their own terms.


1 Until we’ve got more serious problems to deal with . . .

2 I don’t know how education became the maidservant of corporations. Or I guess I do, since corporations run our government. Wasn’t Lessig supposed to fix that?

6 thoughts on “Little Boxes All The Same

  1. This isn’t about doing what’s best for corporations. Clearly corporations don’t give a damn about our country or the world. Their focus is profit.

    Tom Woodward, I love you! Nothing like a Southern rebel getting all riled up, I wanna be in a foxhole with you, son.

  2. Appreciate that Chris. The song always reminds me of mainstream education.

    Susan- I did watch that. She’s a smart lady. I originally had some clips from her in the movie I made recently but she ended up getting cut- I regret the loss of her ideas but her delivery could probably use a little livening up.

  3. We are not just on the same page, we are in the same paragraph! But this is something I have never heard articulated in quite this way:
    “My own prediction into the future is that most people won’t be able to keep jobs they aren’t passionate about. It seems there are too many forces that will let those jobs go elsewhere and be done for less (or by machines).”
    I think that is a powerful and interesting insight.
    And I jsut want to note that my own son who hated tiny-box education is very happy at Liz Coleman’s school–Bennington.

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