“If you’re not doing something crazy, you’re doing the wrong things.”
-Google CEO Larry Page
Think for a moment about your job. Are you doing something crazy or something mundane? Are you supporting the status quo or are you creating innovative change in your industry. If you’re a teacher, I bet you’re maintaining the status quo. Most of us do. Unfortunately, the status quo prepares students for a future of the 1970s, not the digital, global, and collaborative future we can only predict. Teachers need to do something crazy, or our students will be ill-prepared for life.
Steven Levy’s (@StevenLevy) article, 7 Massive Ideas that could Change the World (in Wired Feb 2013), also included a rare interview with Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page. The quote above led the article. The quote isn’t specifically about education, but Page later addresses education directly, albeit probably higher education.
“It’s not easy coming up with moon shot [ideas]. And we’re not teaching people how to identify these difficult projects. Where would I go to school to learn what kind of technological programs I should work on? You’d probably need a pretty broad technical education and some knowledge about organization and entrepreneurship. There’s no degree for that. Our system trains people in specialized ways, but not to pick the right projects to make a broad technological impact.”
-Larry Page, in Wired, Feb 2013
America’s current K-12 and higher education systems do not adequately address the broad understanding needed for successful innovation in the immediate future. I’d argue, at least in K-12 education, students are not prepared for the future at all. Students are receiving a fact-based education, one which can be Googled rather than memorized. Yet schools still focus on memorization and rote responses. Standardized tests largely reinforce this.
As an educational reformer (or an educational revolutionary!) we need to practice revolutionary change. Page also calls for 10X change, change that is 1000 percent better than what currently exists. Page recognizes such attempts can come with spectacular failure sometimes, but without such risk, you are also guaranteed to not achieve wild success.
What will you do, as an educator, to succeed wildly? What risks are you willing to take? If we do not take risks, our K-12 education system will suffer mightily; generations of young people will be ill-prepared to identify and solve today’s problems.
Do something crazy.