Really Excellent Sheep

The title of this blog post comes from the most memorable line in a talk I came across last week from the Stanford Design School. It takes the view that we are forcing aspiring college students into a narrow definition of success and demanding that they undergo an increasingly more structured set of activities to experience college. Yet, our graduates will enter an increasingly ambiguous world that demands questioning of authority and convention in order to creatively solve modern-day challenges. In short, the fear is that we are training really excellent sheep.

The talk also touches on issues of physical setting and career planning and in many ways provides another way of looking at what we are trying to do in the college to create a culture of engagement, encourage risk-taking, and emphasize professional development and early career choice. It also provides support for our remodel of BA-1 so that our common spaces promote engagement and learning rather than hamper it.

There is a lot to chew on in the video. When you get twenty minutes, click here.

I would be interested to know what my readers (students, faculty, staff and alumni) think about it. As always, I welcome comments below….

4 thoughts on “Really Excellent Sheep

  1. I enjoyed Becca’s story. She was the student that took a year off from college and then came back. As a result, she returned more focused and successful. She wasn’t just another sheep jumping through the hoops in the correct order. This leads me to ponder a “what if” scenario that’s interesting. What if all high school students delayed their undergraduate college education until they’ve gained some professional & life experiences. Are they REALLY ready for college and what college has to offer them? Case in point – my non-traditional students seem to have a better grasp of who they are and what they want. Having been in the work force for years with many battle scars they’ve come back to college with the right attitude, a unique perspective and tenacious dedication. But I’m torn here – isn’t college the place where you’re supposed to gain some professional and life experiences in addition to an academic education? Engagement may be the answer.

  2. Question, What do Tommy Hilfiger, Steven Spielberg, Richard Branson, Thomas Edison, Anderson Cooper, Charles Schwab, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, and Winston Churchill, all have in common? They all did poorly in school, because they all suffered from Dyslexia. Does anyone ever wonder how many additional students just gave up and believed what their teachers were saying about them? I do since I had a teacher tell my parents in the 3rd grade I was mentally disabled. Take a look at:
    Maybe it’s time to look at other ways of measuring understanding, knowledge and future potential.

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