I got an email from a teacher from my old high school. He wanted to meet and discuss my thoughts on the current school system.
I told him he won’t like what I have to say but he was OK with it. So we met at my newly built Free Form Fitness location in the Glebe.
He arrived and brought a student with him. The second I saw him – I got a sense of familiarity. The baggy pants, the ball cap, his dragging feet like he didn’t want to be there. A rebel.
The teacher and I got into the conversation. I told him that I believe school kills creativity. That the most successful companies in the last 10 years have been creative companies. Apple, Facebook, Amazon. Even local companies like Shopify are the one that are growing at the fastest pace.
I talked about Sir Ken Robinson’s ideas in his books “The Element” and “Out of our minds”. I talked about how the days of training and hiring factory workers are over. That the connection economy is filled with opportunities. But you need to be able to see them. And School is not designed for that.
Near the end of our talk he asked me a question I hadn’t though about. He asked me:
“If you were to design your own high school what would it look like?”
Staring at the student across my desk I thought back to when I was a teenager. I don’t know about you but I couldn’t seem to absorb information I didn’t care about. But when I was interested in something I was unstoppable. I guess I’m still like that.
In high school I loved skateboarding. I said: “If school would have put all the skaters together. Asked us to build the best skatepark we can. I’m pretty sure we would have created the best skate park in the city if not the country. I mean we would have worked after school for that mission.”
Maybe we could have got a company to sponsor it. Maybe we could have charged a small membership fee once it’s done. These days we may have created a sort of Kickstarter video and raised money to do it. But connect our passion and we would be unstoppable.
The point is: We would have learnt how to work together to built something that people will value enough to pay for.
That’s entrepreneurship – that’s how life works. And I believe it’s the future. At least for the majority of the work force that are going to be replaced by automation and robotics.
So I asked the student what he was most passionate about. He answered video games. I said: “How fun would it be to gather all your gamer friends and figure out how to build the best game together?”
His eyes lit up. He couldn’t help but smile. I said, the video game industry is almost a 100 billion dollar industry. They are already twice as big as the film industry. And with the money being poured into virtual reality you can expect it to grow way beyond that.
My answer isn’t the solution. It’s a piece of it. But it’s sure better than mind-numbing memorization and standardized tests.