multiple-choice life


Tick a box.


Except it’s not.

One hundred years ago, Frederick Kelly came up with the multiple-choice test.  He later disowned it but the damage was done.  The industrial educationalists took it to heart and discarded Kelly instead.

What about all the great answers and thinking between the boxes?  Lost!

Whilst some education was better than no education, and industrialism in its various forms improved the life of the majority of people in many ways, its limitations are not able to lead us forward today.  There are many great answers and educations and careers between the boxes.

Seth Godin suggests, ‘Traditionally society assumed that artists, singers, artisans, writers, and scientists, and alchemists would find their calling, then find a mentor, and then learn the craft.’

Clearly there were limits to this system* – the child probably followed a parent into their line of work – but today we’re capable of improving on this with wider choice and greater mobility, making all those spaces between the boxes or the multiple-choice possibilities ripe for exploration.

In my own organisation, I’ve found innumerable possibilities of calling or flow or element which don’t fit pre-formed boxes or possibilities – but they’re there to add their genius if called on.  Systems-thinker Peter Senge is adamant we have to see the whole system, only then can we find our place to make our contribution within it.**

(*Many have been able to swim in the system, though, arguably, many more sink.)
(**In one example Senge offers – the building industry’s need to build greener houses, all the people in the industry needed to be brought together to work on the issue, but then, ‘people focused on areas in which they had most interest, expertise, and energy’.  Life is not multiple-choice, it’s about people expressing interest, expertise, and energy in a multiplicity of ways.)


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