Bruce Springsteen receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom (PD0)

In 1984, Bruce Springsteen wrote,

“We busted out of class, had to get away from those fools. We learned more in a three-minute record, baby, than we ever learned in school.”

Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez (Unsplash)

In 2016, he won the Medal of Freedom.

The Boss was onto something. The idea that education needs fundamental change cannot be overstated. It is here that we have the most leverage to move the world forward, together.

Currently, our avowed purpose for “education” is to make people able to “compete for jobs.” We stamp out the entrepreneurial spirit for 24,000 hours in K-12; another 8,000 hours in college (with plenty of debt to show for it). In 32,000 hours of your young life, no one ever asks you, “What do you love and how can we help you to do it?”

Entrepreneurs, in all fields, create most of the new jobs in the world, while oligarchic oldsters churn jobs. “Education,” conducted like “entrepreneurship” at its best, can transform the world through the passionate, collaborative efforts of free, brave, thinking people, all boldly being the change they wish to see. Ayn Rand meets Mahatma Gandhi.

Our myriad problems are subsets of a systems problem, and a system of thinking that no longer serves us as a world. These problems set us against one another. On all sides of issues, heroic people everywhere are applying band-aids; we exhaust ourselves by sticking fingers in the holes in the dam. As Einstein pointed out, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

We can launch a new system now. It starts with a new meme, rooted in what we today call “education” and “entrepreneurship.” Today we think these are separate things. “Education” is listening to a sage on the stage (or computer screen) try to permanently install content into your head so you can compete to get a job someday. “Entrepreneurship” in all fields is doing real things, learning every single day. This is lifelong learning through creating. SPIRITed education!

Click here for my very short, very free eBook on transforming education.

Our current system’s theory for “getting your education” is RAMIT: Regurgitate, Acculturate, Memorize, while you are Isolated and Threatened.

It is you alone against the room, competing for grades, and you will not be an “honor” student if you cannot learn by RAMIT. The structure/process of RAMIT is batch processing of humans for the theoretical permanent installation of content. RAMIT is an anti-entrepreneurial system. It is a pro-bullying, pro-narcissism, anti-compassion, anti-thinking, anti-new-wealth system.

Today we exhort students to be generous, but we incentivize them to try to beat out everyone else for top ranking. We exhort them to be kind, but we create losers of all stripes that no one is kind to. 50% of all students must be “below average,” except in Lake Woebegone, where Garrison Keillor assures us, “All the kids are above average.” We tell the rest of the kids in the world it is a level playing field. If they are “below average,” it is because they did not work hard enough. Where is STEM when you need it? A zero-sum game is a dumb game!

The solution is not hard! The truth is out there! All the pieces exist, and someone is doing each one beautifully. Now we just have to put them together and see a new synergistic system whole; we can build ecosystems for lifelong learning and creating.

Google was running ads and billboards showing “unlikely animal friends.” The owl who loves the pussycat, the hippo who loves the ancient tortoise. The caption always read, “Be together. Not the same.” Called “Friends Furever,” it was then the most shared ad of all time.1

A caretaker of some unlikely devoted pals, a tiger and a lion and a bear, said, “I think they are friends because they knew each other when they were young, and they never had to compete for food.” In a RAMIT system, we have humans together for 24,000 hours while they are young, and we force them to compete for the basic needs of safety, security, belonging, and achievement, every day, every year. Another 8,000 hours of competing to win at RAMIT in college. What a waste of years.

Imagine a system in which each human is passionately deploying their strengths, doing real things for themselves and others, collaborating with, and learning from, others with different strengths and different interests, in different fields, and of different ages and countries! It turns out that this is exactly what entrepreneurs really do! The next-level-system theory for lifelong learning/creating I call “SPIRIT“. It is learning while doing real things, grounded in each individual’s Strengths, Passions, and Interests, cultivating Relationships, and celebrating Individuality in an ecosystem of Trust. If you want STEM or STEAM, start with dreams!

Handy memory device for how to operationalize a new system for learning, whose collateral advantages include compassion and trust is: “The 6 Degrees of Innovation.” This is the structure of what good entrepreneurs do! 1. They do real things. 2. They have peer support. 3. They mentor and are mentored. 4. They use technology to accomplish their purposes. 5. They have an ethos that lets them be trusted (high-leverage, low-friction work). 6. They cultivate serendipity. This is the structure of next-systems-level lifelong learning through creating.

The process you can handily remember as, “The 4Hs of Innovation: Hustle with Honor, Help, and be Helped.” If you do this all your life, everything else you need you will learn, or find someone who does it to help you. Lifelong learning, lifelong creating, like entrepreneurs do.

The truth is out there. It’s just in pieces. For example, Gallup has committed to getting 50,000 Strength Coaches deployed2, so everyone in the world can have one. has committed to getting 1,000,000 people over 50 to mentor 1,000,000 million at-risk kids.3 CityAs, a high school full of at-risk kids, has no competing for grades, and every student does an internship in New York City4. (There is no bullying. No suicides.)

The technology is in place: the Internet and accessibility to it, and the components of “empathy machines”, which are the VR goggles and 360 cameras that let us meet intimately across the world, to “Help and Be Helped”. Also, we can begin to make a case for how/when we can replace expensive, and often crippling, credentialing with a combo of cameras and ratings for doers.

Kate’s students created a playlist series to share their experiences in SPIRITed classes. The playlist is called “Understanding Giinius” and is hosted on YouTube (it contains 19 videos). Of the 19, here are four videos that her students highly recommend viewing/sharing with others:


1 Google Android’s “Friends Furever” Campaign Is Most Shared Ad of 2015

2 Gallup Global Strengths Coach(formerly Accelerated Strengths Coaching)

3 Generation to Generation, a new campaign to mobilize 1 million adults over 50 to help young people thrive and unite all ages to create a better future.

4 A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry.

Kate McKeown is a writer, entrepreneur, inventor, and radical professor. She is the co-author, with Lou Mobley, of Beyond IBM, generously called a “best-selling business book” by the Wall Street Journal.
Kate worked extensively with W. Edwards Deming for more than ten years, including helping him to edit his book, Out of the Crisis, published by MIT Press. His next-systems-level thinking changed a country in one generation. We can too.
As an entrepreneur, Kate founded several companies, including C.W.O., Inc. (Cold War’s Over), a company that imported Russian military clothing for sale in the US, covered by BusinessWeek in “Developments to Watch” by Peter Coy.
As an inventor, Kate holds one patent, which she wrote (except for the claims) and prosecuted, and generally has several provisional patents pending. She sold one of her inventions on the QVC home shopping channel. Kate learned how to teach people to protect their intangible assets.
As a professor, Kate incited Entrepreneurship at the Fordham Graduate School of Business, and was Entrepreneur Fellow for the undergraduates. She taught for a decade in the Birthing of Giants program for entrepreneurs at MIT, co-sponsored by Inc. Magazine and EO. Kate has also taught finance to many groups of American businesspeople and entrepreneurs, in forums such as Comdex, and the AMA, and has guest lectured to groups of Russian and Chinese businesspeople (and anyone else who will listen) about the values underlying an entrepreneurial economy.

3 thoughts on “No Surrender. Transform Education. Medals of Freedom All Around.”

  1. Bob says:

    Well said. Brilliant article. Schooling system in the West is lossy af, processing kids’ minds like sausage mince, ignoring the soul and the heart that drives them.

    Profanity warning.

    My only criticism is the implication of the photograph at the top, showing a recent war criminal (who lied his way into top job but became Bush 2.0 upon election dropping more bombs than all previous presidents combined and prosecuting more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined despite specifically stating in his campaign speeches that he would increase protections for them) with known corruption issues and a privileged CIA background pre-presidency in a leadership pose performing some kind of theatrical act bestowing a “medal” upon some guy in the same shitty corporate suit everyone else is wearing in that shot. On second thought, maybe that’s why it was chosen, as a warning of what education has become, cool lyrics or no cool lyrics, what a joke that image is. Fuck anyone accepting “awards” from a creep like Obama, fuck Obama, and fuck the bullshit system these monkeys act for. Fuck Medals of Freedom awarded by CIA guys who bomb children they’ve never met. Fuck rock stars who play that game and validate this charade by participating in the propaganda – this was a pose to legitimise Obama, not to award Springsteen.

    Fuck the CIA. Fuck the mind control system that uses all major institutions to strip down our cosmic heritage and plug the miraculous minds and hearts and souls of the young into a matrix of matter and mundanity. Fuck suits, fuck medals, fuck presidents, and fuck celebrities of any kind, for any reason, ever. Fuck all combinations of these things. Fuck nation states. Fuck school. Fuck uni. Fuck academia. Fuck politics. Fuck wealth. Fuck taking cues from stage-managed propaganda. That song is one that has been sung for centuries.

    Schooling is for fish (it’s those fucking fish people up to no good again!).

  2. JohnP says:

    Author could benefit from improving her writing. For this I recommend Diana Hacker’s “A Pocket Style Manual.” I’ve learned bunches of lessons from the book.
    Take for instance “Misuses of the colon” (Second Edition, page 62):
    “Between a verb and its object.”
    I discovered many things I didn’t know. Hacker has real knack for explaining things clearly and succinctly.

    1. Bingo Bob says:

      The author of this comment, JohnP, could “benefit from improving”. improve his writing.

      For this I recommend this comment in reply.


      – Use the definite article (“The”) when beginning a sentence (indeed, paragraph, or as in this case – the entire post! tut-tut) with which you wish to refer to a subject such as the author of the article above. Perhaps, if social skills are present, as in former millennia, consider extending this bouquet of comparatively effortless courtesy by addressing them directly by name, unless this is a Lesser Mystery. In this case, a simple “Dear Kate” may have sufficed.

      – Avoid using apostrophes as indicating speech contractions (eg. ” I’ve “, “didn’t”, etc.) unless quoting speech. Think I learned this in year three or four.

      – the correct collective noun for the word “lessons” is “propagandistic brainwashing pseudo-academic indoctrination program shitshow” *, rather than “bunches”, until the egregious mistakes of our education regimes, outlined so articulately and gracefully by our Author, and demonstrated so well by your own comment, have been comprehensively Corrected.
      * As in the well-known saying, “I had a propagandistic brainwashing pseudo-academic indoctrination program shitshow of lessons at school/uni/work the other day, it sucked balls and I’ll never believe a word those assholes ever utter again as long as I live”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Some basic HTML is allowed.