comply or innovate?

Last night I was at an open evening at my kid’s primary school.  Their work was on display and I was finding out what the ‘not much’ and ‘nothing’ they do all day is.

Two things struck me.  The first that there seems to be little room for initiative.  I mean real initiative beyond using a  different colour for something.  Castles, islands, knights, maps… all slightly different but essentially the same.

You get good marks for meeting the set criteria.

Seth Godin talks about this:

Compliance is simple to measure, simple to test for and simple to teach. Punish non-compliance, reward obedience and repeat.

Initiative is very difficult to teach to 28 students in a quiet classroom. It’s difficult to brag about in a school board meeting. And it’s a huge pain in the neck to do reliably.

Schools like teaching compliance. They’re pretty good at it.

On the wall in each class was a chart asking parents the elements they think should be present to make the school a successful learning environment.

It was an interesting list and I wish I had taken a quick photo of it.  Coherent curriculum, rewarding success, respect, justice….

and also creativity, transferring skills, initiative…

I put my stars there.  But I was almost the only one.  Most parents preferred compliance.

I wonder if church is the same?

‘That’s not how we do that’  ‘That’s so-and-so’s job’  ‘We tried that once and it didn’t work’  ‘This is what the parable means’

Are we teaching compliance?  It is easier after all.