Stop Praying for Education Reform

Stop Praying for Education ReformWhen it comes to education, we should adopt Nike’s famous motto and ‘Just Do It’.

In the United States (and probably many other countries around the world), it has become a popular pastime to complain about the state of the public schools. People complain about school funding, teacher performance, curriculum, class sizes, and more things than I care to remember right now.

And while the Gates Foundation and many other great organizations are trying to come up with new ways to make education delivery and administration better, the fact remains that education funding is likely to get worse (not better) and any reform is likely to take a long time to implement in the face of stiff resistance.

So what are parents to do?

Well, in my interview with Seth Godin at the World Innovation Forum (2010), he suggested that parents are going to have to take increasing responsibility for educating their own children at home AFTER they get home from school. The interview is one of many innovation interviews I’ve done, and is below for your reference:

But, I’ve been thinking lately that while parents may be interested in supplementing the education their children receive at school in order to help them succeed in the innovation economy (a topic for another day), they may NOT possess the knowledge, skills, abilities (or maybe even the desire) to succeed at this admirable task.

I have another idea.

It is time for us as parents and community members to stop praying for education reform, and instead take action. I’ve given you the WHY, now let’s look at the WHO, WHAT, and WHERE.


You! Many people have knowledge and skills that they can share with kids. Skills and knowledge that will help prepare the next generation for the realities of a workplace that demands more flexible thinking, creativity, problem solving, and entrepreneurial skills.


Let’s face facts. Today’s schools are designed to mass-produce trivia experts and basic competency in reading, writing, and arithmetic (and maybe some history, science, and other important subjects).

But, to succeed in the innovation economy, the next generation is going to need to be proficient in at least these ten things:

  1. Creativity
  2. Lateral Thinking
  3. Problem Solving
  4. Innovation (of course!)
  5. Interpersonal Skills
  6. Collaboration
  7. Negotiation
  8. Partnerships
  9. Entrepreneurship
  10. And much, much more…


Our workplaces and our schools may be the most common places for citizens in our societies to congregate, but there is another place where we could come together to supplement our childrens’ educations…

Congregations: (a definition)
1. The act of assembling.
2. A body of assembled people or things; a gathering.

Now, the word is often used in a religious context, but not all people are religious (or even belong to a religious congregation). But, we have buildings all over the world that are designed for people to come together to study or pray together – or that belong to the government and can be used by the general public. We can use these buildings as gathering places to educate our children for the innovation economy.


We need to come together as societies and communities and fill the gaps in our educational systems that are unlikely to go away any time soon. We need to stop waiting for others to fix the problems and instead do what we can as individuals by coming together to solve this key challenge for continued prosperity. We must do this now.

Who’s with me?

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7 thoughts on “Stop Praying for Education Reform

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  2. Alok Asthana

    Hello Braden
    I am with you, all the way. However, I am in Mumbai,India.
    I offered almost same thing here, but found no takers. Sample this –

    . Positive Lifeskills –Achieve happiness, self acceptance and contentment, more than mere stress management. Yes, happiness is a positive and DIY project. Entirely based on global research. Includes simple meditation, psychologically sound techiques/concepts and cognitive remodelling – the whole science of living. Does not scoff at religion, but cynical towards unexamined beliefs. The only criterion for use is – Does it work? Is it simple?
    . Creativity and Decision making – Is there any area more critical for application of these skills than our own lives? Most of us are poor option generators and decision makers. Simple techniques to generate several options for anything and then to choose from amongst those options. Can also include sessions on good thinking for children.
    Maybe we can we do something online. Is there someone in Mumbai/India who would like to collaborate with me on this?

  3. Dr. James Norwood

    You stated in your blog that “today’s schools are designed to mass-produce trivia experts and basic competency in reading, writing, and arithmetic (and maybe some history, science, and other important subjects).” I don’t disagree with you, but from my perspective as an educator, much of this shift in teaching methods has not occurred because of educators, but because of the myth that testing data is actually giving us the information that we need to help our students succeed. Additionally, the large push toward “standardization” that is occurring is coming from non-educators such as politicians and other interested foundations/groups/etc.

  4. Cheri

    Thank you for opening this important discussion.

    Many people have been taking positive action to help move education forward as well to help empower parents by making offerings accessible. Some examples include the well-known Khan Academy and college/university open courseware. Smaller efforts such as and also serve interested families.

    Additionally, there are many e-mail based forums with local, national, and international membership, for sharing tips on resources, best practices, and more. Parents with an interest in education may find support, solutions, and BTDT advice for any niche problems their child may be experiencing.

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