So if you agree that social Web technologies are causing some fundamental, “tectonic shifts” (Shirky) to many traditional structures in our global society, that businesses and media companies and political organizations are being forced to reinvent themselves in some pretty profound ways because of the ways we can network and connect, then this snip about the music business from Seth Godin’s book “Tribes” should resonate:
The first rule the music business failed to understand is that, at least at first, the new thing is rarely as good as the old thing was. If you need the alternative to be better than the status quo from the very start, you’ll never begin. Soon enough, the new thing will be better than the old thing. But if you wait until then, it’s going to be too late. Feel free to wax nostalgic about the old thing, but don’t fool yourself into believing that it’s going to be here forever. It won’t. (93)
Think education instead of music.
Then, consider this:
When the world changes, the rules change. If you insist on playing today’s games by yesterday’s rules, you’re stuck. (114)
The safer you play your plans for the future, the riskier it actually is. That’s because the world is certainly, definitely, and more than possibly changing. (111)
Godin talks about all of this in the context of leadership, of how important it is for leaders to fight through their fears, to actively seek ideas worth criticism, to fear the status quo. Fear is the reason we don’t change either individually or systemically. And I love the way he puts this:
In every organization, everyone rises to the level at which they become paralyzed with fear. (44)
I know we talk about this ad nauseum, the fears that educators have and what to do about them. And I know the answers aren’t easy. The problem is when the music industry gets paralyzed it loses profits. When the education system goes that route, we lose kids.
One last quote:
“Established 1906” used to be important. Now, apparently, it’s a liability. (17)