It all began with Malcolm Gladwell's TED talk, Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce or as I tend to recall it, Malcolm Gladwell's spaghetti sauce talk. I read an article about his TED talk in a magazine, in a fish and chips shop at the corner of Harborne Street and Jon Sanders Drive in Glendalough, Perth, Western Australia. This was many years ago. What began was the making of a TED Evangelist.
At the writing of this article, Malcolm Gladwell's TED talk, Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce has been viewed close to 5 million times. What really is the best spaghetti sauce?
In the talk, Malcolm Gladwell's tells the story of Howard Moskowitz who is most famous for the detailed study he made of the types of spaghetti sauce. Campbell Soup approached Howard to help them improve their spaghetti sauce product line. From the work that Howard did for Pepsi, Howard didn't believe in the perfect spaghetti sauce, so he set out to find the perfect spaghetti sauces. Howard performed a detailed study using 45 varieties of spaghetti sauce; he varied them in every conceivable way. After months of study, Howard found that all Americans fell into three distinct groups, those who liked their spaghetti sauce plain, spicy and extra chunky. His study led Campbell Soup to introduce extra varieties of spaghetti sauce, notably, extra chunky spaghetti sauce.
Malcolm Gladwell then concludes, that Howard made us realise a number of things, that we do not always know what we want, or we may not always say what we want, there are many different products that suit different people, the focus away from universal principles to variability, and finally that by embracing the diversity of human begins, we will find a sure way to happiness.
That was the spaghetti sauce, now for the education. What is school for? What is university for? What is education? What is education for? I bet if you asked a few people, you would get as many answers.
Sir Ken Robinson has a definition that I like, and now use when thinking about education.
“Education has three main roles: personal, cultural and economic.
• Individual: to develop individual talents and sensibilities
• Cultural: to deepen understanding of the world
• Economic: to provide the skills required to earn a living and be economically productive.”
Sir Ken Robinson's talk on Education, How schools kill creativity is the most viewed talk on www.ted.com [www.ted.com] The talk has been viewed over 27 million times as of this writing.
Given this definition or understanding of education, there are students (pupils) in Zambia that never make it to secondary school, or college or university. Would you say that such students are done a disservice by the current education curriculum and system*?
Think of primary school, secondary school, college and university like an overflowing funnel that can't handle what's being put into it. It's not a mistake that fewer people make it to secondary school, or make it to college or university, it is designed that way. Even if all primary school students scored very high scores, there would still be a cutoff point, and so many with their very high scores would still not make it to secondary school.
What is primary school for? To lead you into secondary school? What is secondary school for? To lead you into college or university? If this is the case, how well does the current education curriculum and system in Zambia serve those who never make it to secondary school or college or university?
Let's finish off from where we started, if you have watched the TED talk by Malcolm Gladwell, you know that there isn't the perfect spaghetti sauce, but that there are many perfect sauces. Even if the current Zambian curriculum is perfect, which it's far from being, we know that we need more perfect education curricula and not just one. We need many pathways to gaining an education, and hopefully an education according to Sir Ken Robinson's definition of education.
What are your thoughts on education?
*Education system – meaning everything to do with education that is not the education curriculum.
Disclaimer: These are my current thoughts as of this writing and the thoughts of others. I have either given credit to others or remixed their thoughts with mine over time that I no longer know where the thoughts came from.
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