Learning Quote of the Year

Kathy Sierra sums up the problems with mass schooling that I’ve discussed over the year, with Knocking the Exuberance Out of Employees:

“If you knock out exuberance, you knock out curiosity, and curiosity is the single most important attribute in a world that requires continuous learning and unlearning just to keep up.”
– Kathy Sierra

Our work systems reflect our education systems and vice versa. As with kids, so with adults. Too many public school and university graduates already have the exuberance knocked out of them; the managerial corporation just finishes them off.

Let’s celebrate exuberance & curiosity in learning and work.

6 Responses to “Learning Quote of the Year”

  1. Wendy

    Harold – I’ve been reading your blog with interest and not a little bit of sadness. I had hoped that my 4 month experience within the Baltimore City Public Schools was an exception.

    The environment was soul-deadening. Not because there weren’t some fabulous, committed people there (even in the administration building where I worked) but because the office politics and the societal demands got them.

    When I say the societal demands got them, I don’t mean the demand for quality education. More the requirements surrounding that demand.

    Baltimore City Public Schools were responsible for feeding the kids (lunch, for many, is the only meal they will receive all day), policing the neighborhood (many of the schools are in very tough neighborhoods), acting as surrogate parents, making the courts happy (they are still in the thick of a special education lawsuit), keeping the unions happy, fundraising and, oh yeah, educating the kids.

    The whole situation, looking back, reminds me of a software implementation project gone horribly wrong. The stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators, the city, the state, the federal government and the businesses who will hire the kids one day) keep changing their minds about what the requirements actually ARE. As a result nothing gets done; or, something acutally gets done, but nothing works.

    I enjoy reading your blog. Keep fighting the good fight.

  2. Karyn Romeis

    Approaching my mid-40’s, in spite of the best efforts of the schooling system and several years of exposure to the general English attitude towards exuberance, I remain incurably enthusiastic and relentlessly curious. Some of us survive and live to annoy the rest of ’em with the tale! I don’t call the blog that journals my studies Ardent Student for nothing!

  3. Geetha Krishnan

    Cannot agree more. And as a learning professional, I wonder, is there any way we can create curiosity in our learning solutions? Gagne talks of gaining attention (by stimulating curiosity) as the first step, but is there a way we can tie in creation of exuberance as well?

  4. Parag Shah

    True, our regular schooling system does knock out exuberance from the students.

    However, some teachers do a great job at actually creating exuberance. They inspire, motivate, and also inform. One attribute that is common to such teachers is their own exuberance and passion for the subject they teach.

    I was thinking if there is any way to create a culture in school/colleges that promotes exuberance. Online interaction of students with other positive and passionate individuals might be helpfull. Environments like Elgg might actually help us achieve this in the future.


  5. Lisa R

    I see this catch 22 all the time. Employers complaining that their staff don’t think for themselves, that they seem to do the bare minimum, can’t think outside of the box, etc. and yet when an employeee decides they don’t want to be a robot, the company clamps down on them quickly. Like you said Harold, the sad thing, is this process is started with kids at such a young age that by the time they enter the work force, the robot mode has been strongly enforced in them.

  6. Harold

    Thanks for all the comments. The important thing is find out what we can do to make things better. I don’t believe that we can change many of our education systems, so it’s best to create alternatives and prove them on a smaller scale. Stephen Downes just commented on a new school in Australia that is attempting just what we are discussing:


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