Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

The real truth about this post: I am not done with this book. In fact, I've only made it to page 25. It's an interesting book, and I like what Godin has to say so far. I am excited to read the rest, but I am personally frustrated with Godin. Here's why: he completely ignored a big part of this book's information when he wrote the last book of his that I reviewed: Stop Stealing Dreams. He is talking about innovators and early adopters and how to hook them and bring them on board with products. I can tell that he understands this when it comes to business and products. He just missed the entire point when he switched to writing about education. You see, when it comes to education most of the innovators and early adopters are homeschoolers. And in his book about education, Seth Godin marginalizes homeschoolers. He ignores their strengths and the fact that most homeschoolers are actively looking for options when it comes to education and repeatedly pushes them aside by suggesting that homeschooling is impractical. Yet, the only people who are in a position to make the changes he outlines in his book right now are homeschoolers. We have already opted out of a system that makes change frustratingly slow. Homeschoolers are the exactly the people that, according to his book Purple Cow, Seth Godin should be embracing and connecting with when it comes to education. His ideas about the place and purpose of libraries in the future lines up with another book called Instead of Education by John Holt, a homeschooling proponent. I would guess its unlikely that Seth Godin knows about this book that was originally published in 1976 because it was written for homeschoolers and like minded individuals at the time that were looking for alternatives to traditional schooling. And yet, Holt's book talks about the future of libraries in much the same way Godin does.

Homeschoolers are so invested in education that they regularly read about it, go to classes to help them improve their teaching, and pay for educational supplies. When a new idea or way of approaching education comes along, homeschoolers are in the unique position of being able to try it out quickly. We often approach teaching as coaches, seeking out resources and the best of the educational options for our children. We are informed about education. All of these things signal that we are the innovators and early adopters that Godin's book Purple Cow suggests should be found and encouraged when starting something new. And yet, Godin uses his book on education to point out what he sees as the reasons why he isn't talking to homeschoolers at all. I think he missed the boat.

With that said, I would recommend both of these books to friends, family, and anyone else. They are both full of information that can be helpful and interesting.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin

There are few things that I enjoy more than free books. So when I heard that Seth Godin was offering his book free, I checked it out right away. His book is written as a series of essays, and he says right at the beginning that part of his intention is to get people talking about education. I liked most of what he had to say. His perspective on comparing our test scores to other countries has definitely changed how I react when I hear that the United States is behind other countries on test scores. As a homeschooling mom, I have thought a lot about education and what it should look like. I have done a lot of reading about education and come to my own conclusions about what the aim of my children's education should be. A number of my thoughts line up with things that Seth Godin has to say, but I also found some of his thoughts to be new ones.

I think that Seth Godin has a curious blind spot about homeschooling for a person so interested in innovating education. He states several times that a homeschooling parent will make mistakes that a seasoned teacher will be able to avoid, but he ignores the fact that a homeschooling parent is more seasoned than many teachers by the time they have a child for ten or fifteen years. All teachers have to start somewhere, and in public school you don't always have a choice if you have a first year teacher. Seth Godin posits that teachers need to fill a coaching role, locating resources and getting students interested. Who is more energetic and creative in finding resources and getting kids interested in learning than their own concerned, invested parent? In fact, homeschooling is the only place that I know of that many of the creative ideas in this book are being put into action right now. As a homeschooling parent, I can get started immediately on changing my child's education. I realize that Seth Godin is hoping to energize a revolution in the school system, but I think he is hurting his cause by marginalizing the homeschool option. Even though I don't agree with Godin about all his ideas, I got a lot out of his book and I highly recommend it.

You should read this book. People that care about children, are part of the education system, or help pay for our education system should read Stop Stealing Dreams and start talking about education.