An Interview with Daniel Pink - Part Two
- Friday, November 22, 2002
Dan: American education for a long, long time has had essentially what I call a Thanksgiving Turkey Model of Education, where you took kids, you cooked them in school for a certain amount of time, a few of them after 12 years of schooling, got an additional four-year basting at college, and then you served them up to employers.
At a certain point in American history that made sense because one of the rules of schools was to indoctrinate kids in the rules and habits of working for large organizations. But it is just a fundamentally wrong-headed way of dealing with a world where technologies and knowledge and organizational forms are changing and changing and changing.
Homeschoolers already know this. Anybody who works realizes that they need to keep learning and learning. And that simply what your degree is in or what you did in school is almost irrelevant to your ability to master the world of work.
Amy: And you address that in your book. You ask: If we [Americans] are so dumb, why are we so rich?
Dan: I think it's because what goes on in traditional school is not terribly, terribly important to the success of the economy. In many ways that's a scandalous thing to even think about, let alone to say. But if you look at the scores, the United States always pulls up the rear on these international rankings, and we always lead the parade when it comes to economic success and more important, innovation. And I think it's because kids learn to do great things outside of school.
Amy: In spite of school.
Dan: In spite of school, right. I mean the idea that you can train people to be great innovators and do imaginative things is ludicrous. What you have to do is let them loose.
Amy: You have said, "Homeschooling ... is a bit of a misnomer. Parents don't re-create the classroom in the living room any more than free agents re-create the cubicle in their basement offices." Some parents do re-create the classroom! Is that still free agency?
(Dan thinks about it.)
(Amy jokingly whispers, "The answer is no.")
Dan (complying): No.
Dan: Yes and no. I think that people should have the freedom to create the setting that's right for them. There are not many of them, but there are free agents who prefer to not work in their home and get an office somewhere and maybe even dress up. That's not consistent with my way of doing things, but if they want to do it, God bless 'em.
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