Understanding 2: A Culture of Compliance Doesn’t Promote Learning

External motivators like punishments and rewards aim toward compliance. Over time, they construct a culture of compliance that defines learning in narrow, measurable terms. True learning always moves in surprising and unexpected ways, and the promise of discovery, not compliance, is core to human motivation. We are explorers at heart.

“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. To top it off, until recently the customers of a school or training program (the companies that hire workers) were buying compliance by the bushel. Initiative was a red flag, not an asset. Of course, now that’s all changed. The economy has rewritten the rules, and smart organizations seek out intelligent problem solvers. Everything is different now. Except the part about how much easier it is to teach compliance.” –Seth Godin

  1. How to Be an Explorer of the World
  2. Rebuilding Democracy’s Infrastructure: Classrooms by Parker Palmer
  3. I Used to think… by Shelly Wright
  4. Are You a Part of an Educational Culture of Compliance or Empowerment? at www.funderstanding.com

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke


Jerry Johnston – Outsider Artist from Clayton Masters on Vimeo.

One Response to “Understanding 2: A Culture of Compliance Doesn’t Promote Learning”

  1. Nancy Rohrbach April 23, 2017 at 5:55 pm Permalink

    I loved the final comments about making mistakes. It is so hard to value mistakes, however, if you look at the progress of our world right now, it was built on mistakes that drive people to succeed. I think that compliance in schools is over-rated and waiting for the light bulbs to go off in a student’s brain is far more important. The only problem is how do you grade that. How do you qualify a student for a grant or scholarship based on thinking out side of the box.

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