Category Archives: education

Costly inertia

dunceThanks to Sandra for this USA Today article, and the McKinsey report of the economic impact of the achievement gap in America’s schools.

The most amazing statistic?

McKinsey & Co., recently ran the numbers, and found that if U.S. children did as well as students from nations such as Finland, our economy would be 9%-16% larger. This means our schools are costing us $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion every year. Just for comparison’s sake, as of late May, economists thought the recession would shave 3.7% from our economy.

America is still the greatest country on earth, but our education system is very badly broken. How bad do things have to get before wholesale changes are made to improve education?

We’re not lacking for ideas.

We are lacking in execution of these ideas and it’s costing us dearly.

Give an “A”

There has only ever been one conductor for the Boston Philharmonic.

Benjamin Zander.

We can all learn a lot from Mr. Zander, author (along with Roz Zander) of The Art of Possibility.

In this video from, he shares three key insights:
1) It’s all invented
2) Standing in possibility
3) Rule #6 – Don’t take yourself so goddamn seriously (that’s the only rule)

In his TED talk below, he tells the story of two salesmen sent to Africa in the 1900’s to determine if there was any opportunity for selling shoes. Two very different telegrams came back to Manchester, England.

Salesman #1: “Situation hopeless! Stop. They don’t wear shoes.”
Salesman #2: “Glorious opportunity! They don’t have any shoes yet!”

(Which salesman would you rather hire?)

He also converts an entire room of people who thought they didn’t like classical music.

Ben Zander has changed thousands of students who pass through his class and millions of others who have seen him present, either live or through videos like these.

Ben was also very generous in contributing a story to our upcoming fear.less e-book, coming in July 2009.

Ben Zander

Pay attention

Educators…..imagine giving your students the following assignment:

Class….you’ve got 10 minutes to receive a text message from anyone outside of this school.

a) What they had for breakfast.
b) What the weather is like where they are
c) The one thing they last purchased.

Bonus points will be given for people in other countries…using languages other than English.

How much richness does your curriculum provide?

What do your students create?

Most teachers think cell phones and iPods are the enemy. More than ever, students are digital learners. Teachers need to learn how to leverage that to better connect with their students.