This morning, I gave my first-ever presentation on the future of education, Education: Is there an app for that?
Education is one of those areas where we know - as a team - that we need to explore. We need to let go of the rope .
So, we did a bunch of research on education trends. (Well, mostly Joseph did.) I talked to some really smart people. I read and watched videos until my eyes twitched. Eventually, I started to assemble my thoughts. Then polish. And shine. And re-assemble. (Rinse, repeat.)
I spent hours trying to make this imperfect presentation slightly less imperfect.
And it still fell short of what I hoped.
I think the audience enjoyed it. They clapped until I was off the stage and back in my seat; I felt their appreciation. But I knew that it could’ve been better.
I shared this with Joseph and Molly. Joseph, in his quiet wisdom, passed along the following quote from one of our mutual heroes, Ira Glass. It hit me square in the solar plexus. Like truth. Here it is:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
“A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
So here I am, fighting my way through. I’m going to schedule more conversations with smart people who are getting this education thing right. I’m going to keep talking about education for our next generation…and theirs. I’m going to practice til my fingers bleed.
See Ira talking about good taste here.
I promised my Twitterverse that I’d post the resources I was using to think about this topic of 21st Century Education. Here’s a partial list:
- Dr. Tae’s video should be called “School Sucks.” It’s really a good investment of 20 minutes, proferred up by a skateboarding physics professor. In today’s talk, I used the chunk where he talks about how kids learn (14:27-16:45)...and the audience of educators loved it.
- This is a list of TED talks on Education. In that vein, Sir Ken Robinson’s video on how schools kill creativity is classic. His main thesis: creativity is as important as literacy.
- Good Magazine’s ongoing work on Education. The little video is a good primer on where we are vs. the rest of the world in education.
- WIRED Magazine’s cover article on 7 Skills Every Grad Needs
- New York Times article on Building a Better Teacher
- Diane Ravitch’s stuff, especially her criticism of Waiting for Superman . (Hint: Teachers aren’t evil.)
- Arne Duncan’s recent article in The Nation. (Subscribers only….sorry!)
P.S. Anne LaMott uses the expression “Shitty first drafts” in her book about writing, Bird by Bird. She says that in order to get to a better version, you have to muscle through the shitty first version. I was going to name my post “Shitty First Draft” but I totally chickened out. At NGC we sometimes say, “Go ugly first” when we’re in rapid prototype mode.