If this was the early 20th century and we lived in a factory economy, our current model of education might be fine. If following directions and avoiding mistakes were valuable skills, one could make a case that our school system was great. But we don’t live in that world anymore.
In his new book Poke the Box, marketing guru Seth Godin tells the story of how the original Starbucks, the one in Pike Place Market, didn’t sell coffee. It sold coffee beans.
A failure, right? A big mistake, for sure.
But in a creative economy like ours, the biggest mistakes happen when you play it safe, when you’re too scared to take a risk. The original Starbucks had the wrong formula, but it provided an opportunity for Howard Schultz to come along and make it better. Creative breakthroughs rarely come from nowhere; they typically build off stuff that already exists.
We’re not in the 20th century anymore, and the factory has been automated and outsourced. Stigmatizing mistakes has become one of the worst things we can do for kids in schools in preparing them to thrive in a creative economy.