Stop Stealing Dreams (Part Five)

Posted by Seth Godin, Mar 16, 2012 3 comments

Seth Godin

All week, we will be sharing (numbered) points from Seth Godin’s new education manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams (what is school for?). You can download a free copy of the full 100-page manifesto at

109. What great teachers have in common is the ability to transfer emotion

Every great teacher I have ever encountered is great because of her desire to communicate emotion, not (just) facts.

A teacher wrote to me recently, "I teach first grade and while I have my mandated curriculum, I also teach my students how to think and not what to think.

I tell them to question everything they will read and be told throughout the coming years.

I insist they are to find out their own answers. I insist they allow no one to homogenize who they are as individuals (the goal of compulsory education).

I tell them their gifts and talents are given as a means to make a meaningful difference and create paradigm changing shifts in our world, which are so desperately needed.

I dare them to be different and to lead, not follow. I teach them to speak out even when it’s not popular.

I teach them 'college' words as they are far more capable than just learning, 'sat, mat, hat, cat, and rat.'

Why can’t they learn words such as cogent, cognizant, oblivious, or retrograde just because they are five or six? They do indeed use them correctly which tells me they are immensely capable."

What’s clear to me is that teaching first graders words like “cogent” and “retrograde” isn’t the point. It’s not important that a six-year-old know that.

What is important, vitally important, is that her teacher believes she could know it, ought to know it, and is capable of knowing it.

We’ve been spending a fortune in time and money trying to stop teachers from doing the one and only thing they ought to be doing: coaching. When a teacher sells the journey and offers support, the student will figure it out. That’s how we’re wired.

132. What we teach

When we teach a child to make good decisions, we benefit from a lifetime of good decisions.

When we teach a child to love to learn, the amount of learning will become limitless.

When we teach a child to deal with a changing world, she will never become obsolete.

When we are brave enough to teach a child to question authority, even ours, we insulate ourselves from those who would use their authority to work against each of us.

And when we give students the desire to make things, even choices, we create a world filled with makers.

3 responses for Stop Stealing Dreams (Part Five)


Joyce Bonomini says
March 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Robert - I agree and it is why teaching artists, arts educators and teachers make such great partners. Process, the world of discovery and risk are in the forefront for each of them.

SETH- I have loved reading your blogs and am looking forward to your book. I have a fan on my Staff who even has your action figure doll, okay I am impressed with your self confidence there.
so an autograph copy of your book would be like the fantasy of a life time. PASS on the magic Seth.---Joyce

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Tara says
April 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Thanks for sharing your article. There are so many different points that I agree with in this article. We need more teachers like this teacher. Teachers anymore are like robots and just follow guidelines and standards. Teachers think that if they follow these guidelines and standards they are doing their jobs and that is good enough. There is so much more to be a good teacher. We need to teach our students how to make a good decisions, to love to learn and how to make a change like you stated. Children have the ability to learn new things we just need to give them these opportunities. I love when you said, “What is important, vitally important, is that her teacher believes she could know it, ought to know it, and is capable of know it.”

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March 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm

These are perfect illustrations of why teachers should be at the forefront of education reform, and not politicians. Politicians are only interested in product; teachers in process.

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