Ignoring the Neighbors

In line with my post a fortnight ago, I recently took a second look at another inspiring book. This time I reread Hugh MacLeod's Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity. Here are some lessons I took away that apply to leaders of K-12 schools...


"Great ideas alter the power balance in relationships. That's why great ideas are initially resisted."

Let's face it… schools are resistant to change. It is not that school leaders, thought leaders, or philosophers haven't come up with better ways to educate students, it is that the relationships of power in educational systems are so deeply ingrained that resistance is inevitable. Getting those in power to harness and own great ideas is pivotal to changing the educational experience for children.

"Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity."

Read that sentence again, but this time replace companies with schools. I want my kids to be immersed in environments that champion creativity. Don't you? It is hard to get schools (and their leaders) to champion creativity in policy and learning environments that predominantly reward rote memorization.

"Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether."

School choice is becoming a powerful impetus to educational change, albeit at a snail's pace. Online schools and charter schools are helping to shift our visions of what schools can be, but they are just a start (with the caveat that not all efforts have been good ones). Authors like John Moravec are talking about knowmads and invisible learning, while others are like John Nash, co-contributor here at Education Recoded, who runs workshops out of his dLab, gets school leaders to refocus their efforts on creating new solutions to old, unsolvable challenges. These concepts and ways of thinking point to bold, new potentials for schools. School leaders who focus on being better than the school down the block are inevitably following the crowd.

School leaders must ignore their neighbors and look outside the box to redefine 'education' and 'schools' in a manner that prepares students for a future that most of us have yet to even imagine.

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