Stop Praying for Education Reform

Stop Praying for Education ReformWhen it comes to education, we should adopt Nike’s famous motto and ‘Just Do It’.

In the United States (and probably many other countries around the world), it has become a popular pastime to complain about the state of the public schools. People complain about school funding, teacher performance, curriculum, class sizes, and more things than I care to remember right now.

And while the Gates Foundation and many other great organizations are trying to come up with new ways to make education delivery and administration better, the fact remains that education funding is likely to get worse (not better) and any reform is likely to take a long time to implement in the face of stiff resistance.

So what are parents to do?

Well, in my interview with Seth Godin at the World Innovation Forum (2010), he suggested that parents are going to have to take increasing responsibility for educating their own children at home AFTER they get home from school. The interview is one of many innovation interviews I’ve done, and is below for your reference:

But, I’ve been thinking lately that while parents may be interested in supplementing the education their children receive at school in order to help them succeed in the innovation economy (a topic for another day), they may NOT possess the knowledge, skills, abilities (or maybe even the desire) to succeed at this admirable task.

I have another idea.

It is time for us as parents and community members to stop praying for education reform, and instead take action. I’ve given you the WHY, now let’s look at the WHO, WHAT, and WHERE.


You! Many people have knowledge and skills that they can share with kids. Skills and knowledge that will help prepare the next generation for the realities of a workplace that demands more flexible thinking, creativity, problem solving, and entrepreneurial skills.


Let’s face facts. Today’s schools are designed to mass-produce trivia experts and basic competency in reading, writing, and arithmetic (and maybe some history, science, and other important subjects).

But, to succeed in the innovation economy, the next generation is going to need to be proficient in at least these ten things:

  1. Creativity
  2. Lateral Thinking
  3. Problem Solving
  4. Innovation (of course!)
  5. Interpersonal Skills
  6. Collaboration
  7. Negotiation
  8. Partnerships
  9. Entrepreneurship
  10. And much, much more…


Our workplaces and our schools may be the most common places for citizens in our societies to congregate, but there is another place where we could come together to supplement our childrens’ educations…

Congregations: (a definition)
1. The act of assembling.
2. A body of assembled people or things; a gathering.

Now, the word is often used in a religious context, but not all people are religious (or even belong to a religious congregation). But, we have buildings all over the world that are designed for people to come together to study or pray together – or that belong to the government and can be used by the general public. We can use these buildings as gathering places to educate our children for the innovation economy.


We need to come together as societies and communities and fill the gaps in our educational systems that are unlikely to go away any time soon. We need to stop waiting for others to fix the problems and instead do what we can as individuals by coming together to solve this key challenge for continued prosperity. We must do this now.

Who’s with me?

Build a common language of innovation on your team

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Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, embeds innovation across the organization with innovation training, and builds B2B pull marketing strategies that drive increased revenue, visibility and inbound sales leads. He is currently advising an early-stage fashion startup making jewelry for your hair and is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. He tweets from @innovate.

Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a Design Thinking, Innovation and Transformation Consultant, a popular innovation speaker and workshop leader, and helps companies use Human-Centered Change™ to beat the 70% change failure rate. He is the author of Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden has been advising companies since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School. Follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.




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  1. Alok Asthana on October 27, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Hello Braden
    I am with you, all the way. However, I am in Mumbai,India.
    I offered almost same thing here, but found no takers. Sample this –

    . Positive Lifeskills –Achieve happiness, self acceptance and contentment, more than mere stress management. Yes, happiness is a positive and DIY project. Entirely based on global research. Includes simple meditation, psychologically sound techiques/concepts and cognitive remodelling – the whole science of living. Does not scoff at religion, but cynical towards unexamined beliefs. The only criterion for use is – Does it work? Is it simple?
    . Creativity and Decision making – Is there any area more critical for application of these skills than our own lives? Most of us are poor option generators and decision makers. Simple techniques to generate several options for anything and then to choose from amongst those options. Can also include sessions on good thinking for children.
    Maybe we can we do something online. Is there someone in Mumbai/India who would like to collaborate with me on this?

  2. celestalbosserman on July 15, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Online universities like WGU keep getting bad reviews. The truth is, most degrees in 10 years will be online. I went through High Speed Universities for my BSN, and now WGU for my Master.

  3. celestalbosserman on July 15, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Offering online courses gives you more choices. For instance, a course may not be able to attract enough students at any one location to offer it, but can when students from all those locations are added together, find your field at High Speed Universities using their tool

  4. Public_High_School_Teacher on July 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I agree with your basic premise but there is an element to this problem that you haven’t mentioned: most teachers, administrators, parents, and students do not really want what you and I state that you want. Teachers such as me that work to include the skills on your list in our curriculum are marginalized for it. Everyone is looking for an easy way to accomplish building these skills in our students and few are willing to ask our students to work more efficiently to obtain them. There is room for fun and there should be plenty of it but the attitude of most students–enabled by parents and administrators–is that if it isn’t fun then students shouldn’t have to do it.

  5. Dimis Michaelides on August 1, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Good thoughts Braden.

    Parents and communities can do lots of great things to make the next generation more innovative.

    So can educators and school systems. I intend to contribute a post on education to Innovation Excellence soon.

  6. Brita Singh on September 30, 2013 at 2:14 am

    I was really amazed at my good luck at finding this article. I have recently attended a seminar on education where the topic was ‘Learner Centred Stategies’. I spoke on the need to focus on education such that our students are more “employable”. The skills that you have mentioned are exactly what is needed. Students in India, especially at the school level, focus more on “regurgitation’ of what they have learnt from textbooks rather than developing the ability to think, analyse and decide independently.

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