In 1994, my friend Fred moved to Kiev Ukraine. He taught English for 9 months.
Every couple of months or so I’d receive a big fat photocopied letter in the mail from Fred. He told strangest stories I’ve ever heard.
One of the first things the communists did when they moved in was remove all the street signs. How are you going to go anywhere outside your familiar neighborhood if there’s no street signs? Most of those signs were still missing when Fred got there.
Fred described how the Soviets built apartment buildings, floor plans and elevators in such a devilishly clever way that you never met your next-door neighbors. Not coming, not going.
Everything in communist society was engineered for loneliness, isolation and dependence on government.
The number of people the average Ukrainian citizen actually trusted could be counted on one hand. Everyone else was likely a spy, a thief or government agent.
Fred said where he lived, the average Ukrainian man died at age 45 from alcoholism and despair.
Davis Guggenheim shot a documentary about the US Public School System called “Waiting For Superman.” In this film he features inner city kids waiting for lottery-style tickets out of the mediocre schools and into charter schools.
In Washington DC, where Congressmen and Lobbyists dine on caviar, 8th graders have the lowest reading scores in the country. The movie features Michelle Rhee who closed more than 20 under-performing schools and fired hundreds of teachers.
She tried to persuade the local teachers’ union to give up tenure in exchange for merit-based salaries of up to $130,000 per year.
The teachers’ union shot it down.
They preferred a system that worked for school bureaucracies and teachers. Not a system that favored children.
In a bureaucracy, nameless, faceless people tweak knobs in their systems and make decisions that affect you personally. You have no means of recourse.
This is how people get DE-Humanized. This is how you KILL hope.
How do you humanize people? How do you build hope?
- You put up street signs everywhere you can. You give people every imaginable road map to wherever they want to go.
- You connect individuals with each other. You encourage conversation and interaction. You build communities.
- You make it possible for great teachers to gain respect and earn a tremendous income.
- You reward mediocrity with a big fat zero
- Every teacher, every professor, every instructor infuses their lectures with insight and PERSONALITY
- You don’t merely teach procedures, knowledge or facts. You empower people to learn from an alter-ego. The student doesn’t just know what the teacher knows; he or she knows how the professor THINKS.
My friend, welcome to the entrepreneurial world of the 21st century. We do all these things and more. Welcome to a world where….
- No matter what you want to do, there’s someone who can teach you
- A first-class business prof can earn a million dollars a year… and boring, ineffective teachers get zero
- There’s no unions, there’s no bureaucracy, only a dizzying supermarket of choices splayed in front of you
In college at my engineering job I worked next to a guy named Boris who was from Russia. He said some people defected from the USSR, came to the USA, and were so overwhelmed by the choices in the supermarket that they freaked out and caught the first flight home.
For them, prison was more comfortable than freedom.
You live in the most un-communist world imaginable. One where successful personalities are eager to show you the way.
What are YOU doing about it?
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