A while back, I wrote about 8-4-4 robots. Specifically, I wrote this:

Do we go to school so that we can be able to get a job? Am I missing something here? Don’t we all go to school so that when we come of age we are able to build a good life for ourselves and become valuable citizens? School is important, very important. But not as important as most people think it is. The important thing is to learn all that you can and how to use it to achieve your goals and/or make a good life for yourself. As it happens, ’schooling’ is not the same as ‘education’. As Mark Twain once said, don’t let schooling interfere with your education.

I’ve been thinking about this subject ever since. Do you remember learning to factor quadrilateral equations in high school? x2 -32x +12? Or calculus? Why were you taught this? Have you ever applied it in your life or work? If you are not a scientist or engineer well, you probably forgot about all that…. But why did they spend hours drilling you on such clearly useless content? Why does school teach things that most people never use? What is the purpose of school?

I believe that, as it is right now, education systems are designed to produce employees. I remember being given assignments to write English compositions while in Form 3. The teachers did not like it if you did not write in accordance with certain moulds or styles – you did not have the freedom to write what you imagined. Why is this? At school, you were being trained to be a compliant ‘cog’, someone who could mindlessly follow instructions as opposed to seeking out innovation and surprise.

Seth Godin puts it best, “I love math. I love the idea of working with numbers, of inventing cool ideas that click. But memorizing factors of 32? It’s clearly an effort to teach you to be taught, to instruct you in compliance, to follow the curriculum.”

That’s an excerpt from Seth Godin’s book, Brainwashed : Seven Ways to Re-invent Yourself.

Years ago, when you were about four years old, the system set out to persuade you of something that isn’t true.

Not just persuade, but drill, practice, reinforce, and yes, brainwash.

The mission: to teach you that you’re average. That compliant work is the best way to a reliable living. That creating average stuff for average people, again and again, is a safe and easy way to get what you want.

Step out of line and the system would nudge (or push) you back to the center. Show signs of real creativity, originality or even genius, and well-meaning parents, teachers and authority figures would eagerly line up to get you back in line.

Our culture needed compliant workers, people who would contribute without complaint, and we set out to create as many of them as we could.

And so generations of students turned into generations of cogs, factory workers in search of a sinecure. We were brainwashed into fitting in, and then discovered that the economy wanted people who stood out instead.

When exactly were we brainwashed into believing that the best way to earn a living is to have a job?

Download the book for free and learn how you can liberate yourself: [download id=”28″]

Seth Godin is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. Godin is author of multiple books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. His newest book is Linchpin.

What did you think of the book?

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  1. You just had to go and mention math? Didn’t you?

    I believe math is the only reason I am not a doctor today but I wonder how a doctor uses math in their career!! You tell me…!!

  2. i love the book can we have such stuff/more of it :0

  3. At school, you were being trained to be a compliant ‘cog’, someone who could mindlessly follow instructions – I so agree with you on this statement. Walk into any office, ok, most offices, especially those run by foreigners and even our own miros, you will seat in a meeting and one person will talk throughout – so you wonder, why the f did they call for the meeting????

    Meetings are fora where everyone invited airs out their views.

    Unfortunately, our education system ws designed as you say, to churn out robots who are meant to ONLY follow instructions.

    There are many young people out there who are very innovative, but the system turns a cold shoulder on them because they have broken the norm and gone ahead and performed far much better than the system that designed the backwardness that is silence.

    Africa is suffering because of such mediocrity.

    I have experienced a working situation where my opinion doesn’t hold water – until 10 years down the line when a certain train of thought fails to bring the results, then the idea I once hatched is retrieved from the archives, dusted and presented as someone else’s idea. I know so many people go through this everyday. Now I understand why we have a gazillion young entrepreneurs who will rather do their biz without an office, than sit behind a desk and follow a routine of coming to work at 8, going for lunch between 1-2 in the afternoon, then waiting to go home at 5. What nonsense.

    • Wow, that’s exactly the same thing that I experienced at my work place (a so called ‘big’ company in this land, incidentally). I am happy that I quit.

      I’d advise everyone to seek employment (if they must) at a small firm – where their say matters.

      • Kelvin,

        A small firm is no better. I have previously worked in a small firm and I’m in a different one and the difference is the same.

        I was on the brink of quiting a year ago – in fact, I don’t know what I’m still doing behind this desk yet I have immeasurable talent. Tsk! tsk! tsk! I guess my intellectual blood is so contaminated I need it to be sterilised so I can start afresh. I am well on the road to recovery though.

        • LOL, I like how you say ‘contaminated’.

          I guess small companies also vary…I believe that at some, all employees are given an opportunity to really do their work (because labour is limited) and use all their knowledge and skills. But it is not the case everywhere, I agree.

          • My morning hasn’t come, but I believe it’s just a few hours away. I will keep watch lest an opportunity passes me. I heard it said on Louis Otieno’s show last night that Kenyans never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity – eish! what a tongue twister!

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