Those who can’t do…


‘It’s 2017!’

*Subdued whoop and a few muttered swear-words*



In the post-Brexit, pre-Trump, post-truth world that 2017 brings, I realised that I no longer understand the world.

Psychologically, we construct our understanding, taking aspects of the world around us to form our narrative. In the narrative I have created, everyone is trying to avoid making others unhappy. So, when terrible decisions are made, it’s a judgement error – ‘the wrong actions for the right reasons’. Through 2016, this narrative has had to change:  there have been too many events that betray total disregard for the ‘right reasons’.

In education, viewing the process as an input-output process makes a joke of what I hold to be the point of education. In an I/O system, the focus is on output, not process. In education, I see grades as only one part of the picture. The incidental learning that allows access to the conversations and confines of the elite are more important.

Malcolm Gladwell argues in Outliers that you don’t have to be the very best to be successful, but ‘good enough’ and able to capitalise on an opportunity. If we have been constantly improving education, then more of the population will be ‘good enough’, which means it must be the second part – being able to capitalise on a situation – that is the difference between success and failure. Where does this attitude come from? Perhaps it comes not from the quality, but the ethos of education? The insistence that you are allowed to demand from others that no-one else would – think The Apprentice.

Perhaps if we look at Trump, Farage and their ilk, who have been undeniably successful – it is not their brains that separate them, but their attitude. They have certainly made the most of the opportunities that have arisen, understanding how voters think and behave in a time of global turmoil, economic depression and the constant sensation-seeking of the media. They also have enough animal-smarts to recognise that liberal-condemnation means little if you have the majority on your side.

Grit, growth-mindset, expertise – call it what you wish, but it all points towards playing a ‘long-game’. We know from history that the boom-bust cycle that short-termism leads to creates longer-term frailty. Perhaps it’s time that those of us who are more liberal-minded started to play the ‘long-game’ more assiduously, making decisions for the right reasons, but with a far more complex and longer timescale. You do, after all, have to have a seat at the table to be able to steer the conversation?

And so, truth be told, it would seem to be not a tale of those that can’t do; but those that don’t do. Sadly, last year, that seems to have been the wrong thing for the very right reasons. Maybe this year my resolution should be to start doing something about it?

Happy 2017, everyone.

Comments and questions happily received!



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