If I shill his new book, We Are All Weird, I'm sure marketing guru Seth Godin won't mind me picking gems of his wisdom to illuminate this page. Reading any of his thirteen best-sellers always makes me dream that he's on our Board, because he'd love this school. Seth sees the near future with uncommon clarity, and utterly common sense. The past century featured a kind of mass marketing that not only made average products; it created average consumers; it told them what they wanted.
Today, it's a different game. Technology creates a level playing field on which customized service flourishes. Schools offering meat-and-potatoes "excellence" and "close student-faculty relationships" won't cut it. Those qualities simply earn you admission into the game.
The drive to meet the needs of some average population dooms creativity. From a business model, this was OK until consumers took control by networking and offering product/service reviews and feedback on-line. The new model demands customization: building services around the the unique needs and demands of the consumer. Eight years ago, the mother of a Proctor student wrote, "Most schools ask the student to conform and jump over some hurdles to get a diploma. Proctor meets each student where she is, and asks, where do you want to go?"
Godin refers to the capitulation to the peak of the bell curve as serving "the mass," and says, "The defining idea of the twentieth century, more than any other, was mass.
Mass gave us efficiency and productivity, making us (some people) rich. Mass gave us huge nations, giving us (some people) power. Mass allowed powerful people to influence millions, giving us (some people) control.
And now mass is dying.
We see it fighting back, clawing to control conversations and commerce and politics. But it will fail; it must. The tide has turned, and mass as the engine of our culture is gone forever."
Proctor is not the only school that is well positioned for the world that Godin envisions, (by which I mean the real world.) But getting there requires taking the risk of being truly unique. "The winners have turned initiative into passion and a practice."
Lakota activist Emily White Hat '94, P'13 addressed several classes today.
Let's Look at Godin's customization for the individual. Elias (Hamburg, Germany, with broken wrist) in wood shop.
Nat Mullen, today, with Berklee College's internationally renowned jazz trumpeter Tiger Okoshi.
Adam learns to fly cast, as part of an English project on a Saturday morning at the pond.
Dave stuns the audience by cleaving a laptop on a stump in assembly. That's not a part of a curriculum, if you know what I'm sayin'.
Daniel works on his elegant boat.
Weird is good.
This can't be serious....
Orange, in focus.
Lakota activist Emily White Hat '94 speaking in class this morning.
Reaching for mitochondria....
How many teenagers spend time on a Saturday morning recycling campus wastes?