Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stop Stealing Dreams

Stop Stealing Dreams: What is School for? is a book-or call it a manifesto by Seth Godin . I came across this book as I was drafting a program for teenagers to administered in some schools around Kisumu.
First, the thought of drafting the program that would not only ensure that the participants have lifelong learning weighed me down. For how can you make someone learn without giving them the choice to participate? You know with the education system in Kenya, we simply have teachers walk in class and teach. They do not ask the students if they are willing to learn something new. However I doubt if any student given the choice would agree given that what is taught is structured and doesn't create room for thinking outside the so called 'box' that people talk of. So in preparing the program I had to interact with various teens across the world first through social media like Facebook , Twitter and also Skype . In doing so I learned that most teenagers see adults as hypocrites and as such are deemed as rebellious- for they do not want to hear nothing from a hypocrite, other than that I also learned that education systems all over the world need drastic change. See, culture is dynamic but with this change also goes the economy and Seth Godin's book made a huge impact on my research. I had to change the questions I was asking and simply go with the old age question -what? Yes, because why is so overrated, 'what?' simply makes things easy. First I asked 'what would you like to learn?' The responses I got included: how to dance, read better, write,be good to people, how to get things right, how to be happy with who I am, learn a foreign language, how to prepare a dish, and also how to live my life. I also asked next 'what would you like to be?' And the answers I got included: doctor, teacher, nurse, lawyer, engineer, singer, dancer, priest.
Do you see the discord?
First what the participants would like to learn have very little or nothing to do with the profession they want to pursue. Most of them gave me a profession for the second question-and these are in line with what the society and their parents expect of them not what they expect of themselves. So, this discord is not of use to our society in the next five years. What happens is schools are simply training people to work-to fit the job descriptions-to go with the economy. Sad bit though is that the workplace demands variety yet schools inculcate uniformity. So, schools churn out the same people trained with the same skills into a market that demands different skills and personalities.
You can read Seth Godin's work here .

It may seem as though very little can be done, in terms of changing an education system-because though right now in Kenya the government is working on this very few have done a cultural and social assessment. For, to improve the system-you cannot completely wipe it away, what you can do instead is do away with the bad, and then reinforce the good-but you have to first understand what is bad-why it is bad, and then fix it-but when it comes to education-it all boils down to choice-do you want to learn? Are you willing to dedicate your time and energy to learn something? It's time we stopped stealing dreams-but start dreaming 'bolder' dreams and fighting for them.
How can one change the world if one identifies oneself with everybody?


  1. I agree. This confirms everything I believe to be wrong with the education system - and not just in Kenya. Especially that part about how it produces wage-slaves (not your words exactly) for the existing economy. If I were to discuss this any further I would delve into class consciousness and politics.

    You're sensitive and observant.

  2. I agree with untonyto on this one too-and am glad you wrote this because schools just churn out robots and then you hear employers saying they don't have creative thinkers and you wonder why?

  3. hey martha and anthony, you all have it right and magine the educationsystem has not chnaged much and now we talk of changing the system yet the teacher training is still the same and it begs the question just how much change we will initiate.


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