A Reflection on Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin

Business man, open speaker, and writer Seth Godin communicates his convictions about how the modern generation has bargained the industrialized tutoring framework because of the internet and “the association economy” in his manifesto “Stop Stealing Dreams.” His main thesis is that the original goals of education have outlasted their effectiveness and that it is the high time to formulate new goals and reinvent the education system. Indeed the title of the manifesto is emblematic of the main implication of his writing and generally means that the current education system is doing nothing more than stealing the dreams of learners. Overall, the thrust of the manifesto resonates well with me and I found it enjoyable. This paper presents my reflection, including my response to his opinion, information, and thoughts.

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            Godin’s philosophical standpoint about the current state of education put me out of action at first. However, after re-reading it for a second time, I discovered a few interesting points. First, the author implies that public education was originally a way of preventing child labor and that any similarity with real education was coincidental. This claim is arguably true but I only perceive it as a very minor component in the avoidance of child labor. Notably, children’s participation in the labor force is infinitely volatile and varied as it responds to many social conditions and changing markets. This context is matched by the changing nature of the huge, unprotected, hypothetical child labor force. The major factors at play in influencing the outcomes of child labor are labor mobility, social exclusion, poverty, lack of adequate social protection, and discrimination. Hence, with respect to this, I fairly agree with Godin, particularly because these factors were significant during the invention of the current education system, but impartially disagree because some of the factors do exist in select societies and that real education was not entirely coincidental. The main target of education was to instill values and skills in the young generation in order to bring it in line with civilization.

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            Second, I moderately concur with Godin that the objective of public education was to instill a sense of obedience which was considered a prerequisite for becoming a good worker in industrial settings. In fact, this is in agreement with the core purpose of education as a tool of training and preparing learners to live and earn livelihood in a complex society. Even so, I recognize the opinion of education as strongly correlated with the infusion of obedience as quite weak because the educational content bore relevance in the lives of educated individuals. Furthermore, even primitive societies that barely educated their young generation still imparted obedience through informal means. Another issue that Goblin raises is that of Rote memorization, describing it as a reflection of an environment of information scarcity. To a degree, this is quite true, but it is important to note that modern education has also evolved. It has particularly adopted modern methods of learning such as design thinking, flipped classroom models, self-learning, gamification, social media, and free online learning tools, among others.      

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Perhaps the most important theme that Goblin’s manifesto raises is the concept of dreams and their loss through the current education system. He asserts that children were used to dreaming of “big things” in the past, but such aspirations have become trivial in the modern setting where they only dream of becoming assistants to someone famous. To this claim, I diverge. The modern tutoring system does not steal dreams from children, although it does limit them in some ways. On joining school, young students receive basic skills that are necessary in the global environment while being allowed to choose their own career paths. Although the process of attaining their goals may be limited by their grades, the education system has given them opportunities to rework their way through to their dreams. In conclusion, Goblin’s insightful manifesto provides anecdotal evidence but undermines the argument in some instances. Personally, I feel that the current education provides a means to execute the dreams rather than merely allowing them to dream bigger.

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