I’ve just finished reading marketing guru  Seth Godin‘s latest book Tribes – We Need to Lead Us.  Godin’s book picks up on themes explored in Wisdom of the Crowds and The Element, in which the authors explore the notion of tribes and the need for each of us to find like-minded people.

It is a move away from individual and groups to something that is energetic, ephemeral, engaging and exerts real leadership.  It signals a new way of thinking that is just-in-time, bold and bucks the status quo.

As Godin says,

We’re embracing a factory instead of a tribe…..Fear of change is built into most organisms, because change is the first sign of risk.  (pg 9)

Leaders…don’t care very much for organisational structure or the official blessing of whatever factory they work for.  They use passion and ideas to lead people, as opposed to using threats and bureaucracy to manage them.  (p 19)

feetThis thinking must pervade our classrooms and educational institutions if we are to liberate our schools from factories to tribes.  Our ability as teachers, leaders, employees, students to take risks will be made much easier when we are working with and among those who share our passions and are willing to push the boundaries further into the unknown.

The internet has become a tribal marketplace for people to connect.  Twine and Epicurious are examples of social networking sites that brings people with similar interests together.

Ken Robinson writes about Mick Fleetwood and Sir Paul McCartney’s search at school for their tribe.  Of course, each one found it in a musical group but their initial experience of school and learning was sadly shaped by  the factory mentality: conformity, security and predicability.

In cautioning schools, Godin writes

“training a student to be a sheep is a lot easier than the alternative. Teaching to the test, ensuring compliant behaviour, and using fear as a motivator are the easiest and fastest ways to get a kid through school.  So why does it suprise us that we graduate so many sheep? (p 83)

So what will it take for every teacher to be tribal leaders who can lead instead of train?

One thought on “Tribes

  1. Greg, I’m enjoying having some time over the hols to read and comment in more edublogs than usual.

    ‘Tribes’ is a great read and I enjoy Seth’s blog musings too. This recent TED video on tribal leadership is a useful reflective tool too.

    My fave Seth Godin quote of is:

    “Competent people resist change. Why? Because change threatens to make them less competent. And competent people like being competent. That’s who they are, and sometimes that’s all they’ve got. No wonder they’re not in a hurry to rock the boat. . . . In the face of change, the competent are helpless.

    It doesn’t take a lot of time to change … to reinvent … or to redesign. No, it doesn’t take time; it takes will. The will to change. The will to take a risk. The will to become incompetent – at least for a while.”

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