What can you un-do?
The older my daughter gets, the more I start to think about her education - the formal kind, at least. When it's time, what kind of school will she go to? What should I look for in a school? How will what she learns in elementary school impact the kind of person she's becoming given the kind of world she's growing up in? While some of this is innocent parental worrying, it's also given me a chance to think about education and what it means today, particularly given how we all (especially the youngest among us) learn.
And this is why I was glad to have found this piece by Leo Babauta about unschooling. Read his article for the full rundown, but in short, unschooling is the idea whereby students are able to self-direct their learning based on current interests and passions. It abandons the "factory" or "assembly line" ideals that many schools currently operate within. Unschooling, argues Babauta, teaches kids how to learn:
Unschooling takes a different approach: kids learn how to learn, how to teach themselves. If you know how to learn and how to teach yourself, then you are prepared for any future. If in the future the things we know are obsolete, then the person who knows how to learn anything will be ready to learn whatever is in use in the future. The person who only knows how to learn from a teacher will need a teacher to teach him.
While Babauta's post is intriguing - and there is no shortage of unschooling info to be found online - what's most interesting to me is the "un". I like the idea of undoing something, of taking apart accepted norms and notions, mixing them up, and seeing what comes out.
This is what entrepreneurs do. This is what leaders and innovators do. They take what's conventional, undo it, and then release something awesome:
- Steve Jobs, Apple, and iTunes undid the way music was sold.
- Reed Hastings undid the way movies were rented.
- Wendy Kopp undid the way teachers were recruited, trained, and placed in schools.
And so it can be with you. What can you un-do?
Just because something is trapped within a structure doesn't mean it can't be undone. In fact, those things that have large institutions built upon them, even those with millennia of history on their side, are often the most fertile ground for an undoing.
No, it's not easy or quick, but it's always worth it. The status quo will remain in power until something new rises up to present a challenge. And the first step in that challenge is an undoing, an unraveling, an unsettling of what currently abides, placates, and sedates.
You'll find that the greatest opportunities lurk just beneath the calm surface of mediocre expectations.
What about you?
What could you un-do today? Or what do you think is just wating to be un-done by a leader or entrepreneur?