25. March 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: Vison · Tags: , ,

Another gem of a post from Seth Godin today.  You can read the entire post (long by his standards) here, but here’s the quote that stuck with me:

The curated business, then, will ultimately fail because it keeps missing this shoulder, this untapped group of talented, eager, hard-working people shut out by their deliberately closed ecosystem. Over time, the open systems use their embrace of waste to winnow out the masses and end up with a new elite, a self-selected group who demonstrate their talent and hard work and genius over time, not in an audition.

Go ahead and minimize these open systems at your own peril. Point to their negative outliers, inconsistency and errors, sure, but you can only do that if you willfully ignore the real power: some people, some of the time, are going to do amazing and generous work… If we’ll just give them access to tools and get out of their way.

Most of the school systems in which we work are in the curating business.  Our high schools select valedictorians, rank their students and give awards to the top.  Most reward students who comply with the system.  They arrive on time, turn in their homework, follow all rules, cover their books, do both the even and odd math problems, pick up the recycling, use college-ruled line paper and type all of essays in 12 pt, double-spaced, arial font.  They are on the football team, in the National Honor Society, french AND spanish clubs, are Eagle Scouts, and find time to volunteer at a homeless shelter.  And you know what…

They are great kids.

No doubt.

But so are the kids who tinker with motors in their free time, spend time in their British Literature classes drawing plans for their robots, are on sports teams, but are more interested in learning how team members interact than actually winning games, are constantly drawing designs for their first line of clothing, are writing lyrics for their upcoming album, are too busy developing apps to finish their papers on the industrial revolution, are writing the code that powers social media instead of constantly posting on Facebook, and are learning how to write a business plan and secure financing for their yet-to-be-opened small business.

All of our students have the amazing capacity to exceed expectations, but when we curate for the old elite and don’t provide the tools, resources, time, care and love to all, we all too often miss the “amazing and generous work” of the “new elite”.


  1. Tony,
    I could not agree MORE!! It is so hard to be a parent and know this while also trying to help your child navigate through such a system. I just have to continue to have faith that although he is that “other” kind of kid that the world will allow him the opportunities that school does not either honor nor even recognize!!

  2. Love this post, Tony — as a teacher … as a parent. There are many definitions of “greatness”. It’s all relative and it sometimes takes a tweak in perspective to see that. Keep on reminding us!

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