“Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.” (also here on TED)
A wise person knows how to make the exception to every rule, knows how to improvise and knows how to use moral skills in the pursuit of the right aims (serve other people rather than manipulate them). A wise person is made and not born. Wisdom depends on experience. It takes experience to learn how to care for people. You don’t need brilliance to be wise. Without wisdom, brilliance isn’t enough.
Rules and procedures are dumb but they spare us from thinking. Often these rules are imposed because previous officials have been lax. When things go wrong, we reach for two tools to fix them. One tool is rules (better ones and more of them) and the second tool is incentives. This may make things better in the short run, but they create a downward spiral that makes things worse in the long run. Moral skills gets chipped away. We are deprived of the opportunity to improvise and then learn. Morals will also be undermined by these incentives.
Do we trust the judgements of teachers by forcing scripted curricula? These scripts are insurance policies against disaster but what it also does is ensure mediocrity. Too many rules will prevent us from improvising, resulting in us losing our gifts. Incentives only allow us to ask “What serves my interest?” Incentives can be subverted by bad will and demoralises activity. We also lose morale and then the activity itself loses morality.
We need to re-moralise work! Celebrate and acknowledge moral exemplars. Get motivated by doing the right thing. Know the people in your community. Get support behind you. Encourage and nurture moral skill and moral will. As teachers, be the moral exemplars. Remember we are always teaching; the camera is always on and someone is always watching.
Kids need to learn character. Do our school structures and organisations enable us to develop wisdom or rather have it suppressed?
Tags : Administration, Barry Schwartz, Rules, TED, Video
Categories : Creativity, Education