Two things a leader (and speaker) can ill afford to do

walt disney world
snapped this photo yesterday, May 9, 2012, while I was at "work"

Two nights ago, as we were falling asleep, my son (a 6th-grader) told me that education should be reinvented. His reasoning was profound on two fundamentally simple levels.

He thinks it’s a waste of time to learn stuff you’ll forget or learn stuff that won’t matter.

Next Blog

By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.


  1. Your Son’s comment made me smile as I uttered a similar statement to my Plant Physiology Professor as an undergraduate in college. “Why does this stuff matter anyway? I’ll never need plant phys ever in my life again. I’m going to be a vet.”

    Next page: Graduate school. Took a biophysics course on the electronic properties of photosynthesis. Before the semester was over I changed fields and departments. And yes, the plant physiology came in handy; very handy.

    Often times, we don’t know what will be required, or what information will be the underpinnings of our future passions.

    And yes, I returned to my undergrad school to thank my professor.

  2. Jeff,

    I recall a similar discussion that was made when I was in high school geometry that I later repeated when I became a math teacher right out of college. I was talking with my geometry teacher when a student walked in and said, “Why do I have to learn this geometry? I am never going to use it anyway and if I did, I will have long since forgotten it.” My geometry teacher, who was a retired naval commander (who used his math skills to design the underground phone systems for the Pentagon) smiled with glee at this challenge and said, “You are right. About 95% of this stuff you will never use. It’s finding the 5% that you will use that makes it worth doing!” That has stuck with me forever, and I find myself now even saying it to my sons.


  3. Patty, in the early days, we need broad brush strokes of knowledge, because we really don’t know where we’re going (we think we do, but we know now that we didn’t).

    Just as a backpacker carries way too much stuff in the early trips, with time, we discover what’s really necessary.

    We should never tire from learning, and seek it everywhere. We just need to be mindful about what we can carry with us for the long haul.

  4. Bob, bloody brilliant: “It’s finding the 5% that you will use that makes it worth doing!”

    Profoundly simple. Simply profound.

Comments are closed.