When You Hate School But Love Education


When Shawn Murphy and I launched Switch and Shift, we knew the bulk of our constituency would be business leaders – which it is, undoubtedly.

However, what we didn’t consider was how this site would also serve as a resource for so many non-business leaders as well, including those in government, nonprofits, and education. There’s a whole world full of leaders who at least sense that there’s a better way, a more human way, to run their organizations.

We’re delighted to find that this site has become the foundation of a community for them; the base where they can find each other, explore new ideas, and take them back to work.

Educators in particular have been connecting with us from day one, to point out that our business posts aren’t just for business; they’re for school as well – and we love that! As many of these leaders will attest, traditional Western education isn’t so much dysfunctional as it is… well… outdated.

Much of it doesn’t work for today’s world; many aspects of our system do not serve our students to become productive, thriving members of society anymore.

And no wonder! The economy of the 20th Century was based on manufacturing, which involved inculcating children in the values of obedience to authority and efficient work. Students who thrived in our schools fed into the machine of the hierarchy. Those who didn’t perform so well were prepared for the proletariat – the ranks of the workers. School didn’t just teach information, it taught submission to this system.

Resistance in spades is what we’re seeing right now with our greater-than-ever societal worship of the standardized test – the bane of creative thought.

Today? Today, most work is either high-wage knowledge work or it’s low-wage service work – often, such low-wage as to be unlivable, so that our unskilled workers cannot get by without government assistance.

Meanwhile, knowledge work doesn’t require conformity of thought or behavior; indeed, innovation and conformity are in conflict. Often our best students graduate to find their most important skills – obedience and adherence to existing rules – are of no value to employers, who want them to think for themselves and add value from their first day of work.

Many aspects of our system do not serve our students to become productive, thriving members of society anymore.

Our schools are struggling to remain relevant to the misfits who will increasingly power our economy’s growth in the dawning century. I have every faith that our schools will transform, but not without much pain and a tremendous amount of resistance.

Resistance in spades is what we’re seeing right now with our greater-than-ever societal worship of the standardized test – the bane of creative thought.

I know when I’m outclassed, so here is where I’ll let a young spoken word artist named Sulibreezy take over. My favorite line from his video? “I hate school but love education.”

Education? Learning? What could be more exciting than that? School? Well, that’s not always so exciting. Although it certainly could be with the right leadership!

Enjoy this video. And if you do, please share with your network.

I Will Not Let an Exam Decide My Fate

(Hat Tip to my best friend and blood brother, José, for tweeting me a link to the above video.)


Art by: ModernHippy

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

  • LitSuppGuru

    I am a professor at Georgetown University as well as a trainer in my industry and I love sharing knowledge with human sponges. I love adding real value to their future.

    The video is very powerful and moving. I’ve actually thought the same thing for a while. There has to be a better way. For the last 3 years, I’ve been researching eLearning, engaging students and flipped classrooms. Society needs to be more open minded about how people can best learn.

    Thanks for another inspiring article, Ted.

    • Alan: you, my friend, are preaching to this choir!! I am so with you. The old century is past, but most of our leaders grew up in that century, with its industrial-sized way of doing things. New century, new rules.

  • The indictment of education presented in this video was true when I went to school during the 1950s. Unfortunately, it is even worse today. Teachers now preach ideology and prepare students for lives of servitude to a society that will own all and dole out whatever they need. They teach them to seek fairness in all things. They protect them from failure by not keeping score.

    I was a terrible student. I rebelled against the teachers. I demanded answers to my questions rather than theirs and they hated me for it. I retained my joy of learning despite their every effort to beat it out of me.

    I wish I had the gumption to quit school like Louis L’Amour who quit because it was getting in the way of his education. Like L’Amour, I educated myself. I discovered the library and read and read and read… I built confidence in my ability to learn

    Shouldn’t that be the goal of schools and teachers? To teach students how to learn. To stand at their side and hold their hands as they learn. To imbue them with confidence in their ability to learn.

    I spent the working years of my life primarily as a consultant. I answered calls for help from people who were unable to do things for themselves, who needed skills that they were either unwilling or unable to learn for themselves. I rarely had the required knowledge or experience. I learned what I needed to learn and helped them. It seems that their schools had failed them just as mine had failed me.

  • Dear Ted,

    Thanks for this great post you really touch a chord here!

    I definitely agree with you that there must be better human ways to run education. And surely, conformity is a killer for the creativity of the instructor and the student alike. Currently, everyone is so keen in measuring “Students Learning Outcome”. But what about “serendipity” for instance in classrooms? How can we measure it? Many times we trigger interests and outcomes totally unplanned for in the course syllabus. There is definitely no room for “serendipitous learning outcomes” in typical course syllabi.

    And the list goes on with: conformity & student differences, conformity & multidisciplinary subjects/ research, measuring the non-measurable, etc.

    Looking forward to read more about this topic,

    Hoda Maalouf ( university lecturer & head of department)

  • Alan Dayley

    Make no mistake, there is a revolution going on. In primary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges. Also in businesses and economies. Technology and the needs of our societies are driving change faster and faster. Years ago it was already faster than our current structures could support, we just didn’t see it. Now that we see it, we tend to fear it.

    The current structures of the last 100 years don’t want to see it. They will hold on to what they knew, believing it is how they keep power and money. Some few will hold on out of a desire to remain in the seat of control. Most will hold on because, like the mother in the video, they don’t know any other way.

    Revolutions are messy, bumpy and have unknown outcomes. Some are forging new thought, ways of doing and working. Some of these new things will be “wrong” in that they are not the answer we need because we are reinventing what we need as we go. The old guard will point to the “wrong” answers as examples of why the old ways should still work. They are and will pass laws, regulations and policies to “protect” what they know. They are wrong, too.

    The sooner we figure out how to step forward together, the better off we will be.

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  • Amen!!! Twas so true for me and for my kids….they yearn to learn but my youngest especially finds school stifling and slows her down – and they’re in a fabulous school!

  • Yep.

    Teachers don’t know shit. Nothing. So Amy, shut the fuck up. I’m 16, and just can’t take it anymore. Nobody ever helps me. Ever.

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