School vs. Social and the war for Attention

The title is a joke

There’s actually no contest. School can’t win.

Social media fulfills deep, innate desires, like peer approval and being noticed.

School’s strategy for getting attention is worksheets with cute fonts, and broad, general knowledge that no one wants. Students who misbehave get noticed. The rest are grouped by age, and our sense of whether they’ve learned what we think they should have learned by that point a.k.a. are they average?

“Average is over”

No one wants to be treated like we treat kids in school. Companies can’t sell to the “average” anymore. Have you seen how many shoes Nike sells? Or how oddly specific the categories on Netflix are? We crave being recognized for our uniqueness, and we only want things that fit our well-developed interests and style.

A marketing strategy for school

In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.

Seth Godin

We need to give students something to care deeply about, something that makes them feel seen. We need to steal good marketing strategy and make things for the edges. We need to get very specific with the topics we deliver, and we need to teach them to small, highly interested groups. 

Yes, this is just student choice. 

No, the choice to write from the French perspective or the English perspective on the history essay is not an authentic, meaningful choice. 

Two outcomes: thinking skills and social skills

Teaching must become way more specific to student interest, whatever that interest might be, as long as students are learning how to solve problems. Hard thinking skills and social skills are the big outcomes. Creativity and human connection are all that will set us apart from computers soon anyways.

This will require us to throw out the curriculum model of everyone learning the same thing at the same time. If something isn’t working, you need to fix it.