This week my 8-year-old daughter is doing our government-mandated standardized testing at school. Her 10-year-old brother advised her, "Do your best, if you have no idea always guess, and remember, it's not about you. It's a test for your teacher, your school and it's also a big way that realtors get people to pick houses."
It got me thinking about something I read in Ken Robinson's and Lou Aronica's book Creative Schools. In the book, Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills and special adviser on education policy to the secretary-general at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said, "The world economy no longer pays you for what you know; Google knows everything. The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know. If you want to learn if someone can think scientifically or translate a real-world problem into a mathematical context, those things are harder to assess, but they're also more important in today's world. We see a rapid decline in the demand for routine cognitive skills in our world and the kinds of things that are easy to test and easy to teach are also the kinds of things that are easy to digitize, automate, and outsource."
So whether it's helping our children think about what they want to do with their lives, or whether it's re-thinking what we're doing with our own, there is something so powerful in realizing that it's not necessarily what you know but what you do with what you know. How you get creative and connect the dots. Your unique angle on a problem and its solution.
As William Butler Yeats once said, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
May we help light a fire in our children and in ourselves as we focus not so much on being standard, but on being extraordinary.