When children first start to draw we teach them to colour in between the lines. We reward accuracy rather than interpretation. Neatness, not expression. This says a lot about our own predispositions. In this short but insightful interview, Seth Godin talks about an education system characterised by an industrial model from an industrial era. Built to "train people to become compliant factory workers, to sit in straight rows, do as they're told, follow instructions...and teach kids that the best way to fit in and feel good, was to buy stuff". It is, as one of the comments on my recent post on creativity said, a "model of instruction whereby children are conditioned to ask fewer questions over time", and ill-suited to what we need now.
In his short book on 'Work, and the Art of Living', Roman Krznaric notes how ironic it is that one of the main culprits responsible for the toils of modern work, Adam Smith, is celebrated on the modern £20 note. Somehow we have let the relationship between our needs and our wants become distorted. A 2007 survey by the OPP consultancy found that 60% of people feel that their current career falls short of their aspirations. It is a tragedy that has very real consequences. And shows the separation we've created between meaning and motivation. There's a mountain of stuff we need to do to put it right, but perhaps one place to start might be to encourage our children to never stop asking questions, and to celebrate, not repress, curiousity in the workplace.