What is school for? 5 cartoons

We’re not spending nearly enough time asking each other: What is School For?-Seth Godin

My daughter started kindergarten recently.  So if you’ve noticed that my posting schedule’s been thrown off or that I’ve seemed a little frazzled as of late, this is definitely a contributing factor.

I really disliked school.

Or, to dis-aggregate, I was OK with elementary, disliked middle school, hated high school and was happy enough with college and grad school.

I was really good with numbers and pegged by teachers as a future engineer. I also loved to draw and doodle but was not talented enough to receive any kind of encouragement in an educational setting.

At some point I stopped drawing.  Not sure when, just know that it happened.  I also tried to become an engineer, subsequently almost failing out of college my freshman year.  Eventually I found my way into the social sciences, which offered problems interesting enough to keep me at least somewhat motivated.

Minnow Curriculum cartoon by Chris Lysy

It wasn’t until after my daughter was born that I rediscovered my creative side.

When I first started drawing cartoons I tried to convince myself that I designed the cartoons to help communicate ideas.  But the truth is that I need the images to get through the material.  It’s the best way I’ve found to concentrate and stop myself from zoning out.

To be my best, visuals are not just a diversion.  Illustration is integral for me to learn and understand.  This is something I wish I had known decades ago.

I don’t think I’m alone.

What would I like school to be for?

Giving kids the tools and knowledge they need to follow their interests (tap into resources).  Encouraging them to think differently.  Letting them know that it’s OK to be wrong.  Teaching them to  write, draw, speak, paint, play music, or convey ideas in whatever way works.  The work that they complete, it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s work.

Thriving in the digital world means being special and unique.  Let’s teach that, not just say it.


Here are some of the people giving this topic a lot of thought and a set of cartoons inspired by their work.

Seth Godin: Stop Stealing Dreams

Factories closed cartoon by Chris Lysy

I was going to give you cartoons on something entirely different today, but Seth Godin derailed that with his post yesterday.  Here’s a talk he gave on the same subject at a TEDx Event.

David Kelley:  How to build your creative confidence

Creativity Lost Cartoon by Chris Lysy

For whatever reason, I think creative confidence is one of the easiest things to crush.

[ted id=1449]

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

Hole in the wall cartoon by Chris Lysy

I find this talk incredibly inspiring.  I especially love this line…

If children have interest, then education happens. -Arthur C. Clarke

[ted id=949]

Ken Robinson: How schools kill creativity

Sit still cartoon by Chris Lysy

I know I’ve posted this talk a couple of times in the past.  I just really like it.

[ted id=66]


  1. Rebecca Muller on October 14, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    I am enjoying your blog and thought you might enjoy this. This weekend, I had the opportunity to spend it with an amazing group of educators of the Google EdTech Team helping host the Rocky Mountain Google Summit for over 300 educators in Colorado. Molly Schroeder, one of the keynotes, spoke of Living in Beta, which is also a Ted Talk so I included the link. It’s worth 10 minutes to watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nnYI3ePrY8

    • Chris Lysy on October 20, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Thanks Rebecca, I’ll check it out 🙂