How should American schools honor the motto of the United Sates? By making everyone the same, or by building on diversity?

Uniformity in some things is a necessity, such as allegiance to the US Constitution. But in all else individuality is what has made America great. And that same diversity, if leveraged, will help propel the US in the 21st century.

No two human beings are alike: not even identical twins. In America that is truer than in all other nations. Americans speak 350 languages at home. We are the most diverse nation in history. For our children in school there already is no majority ethnic group, and by 2044 that will be true for the nation as a whole.

Our diversity on the one hand, and our need for cohesion through conformity to norms of behavior on the other hand will always cause tension. It happens in families, companies, armies, other enterprises and certainly in schools.

However, attempts at homogenization have serious downsides. A one-size-fits-all approach works only to a point. Even in the military, and certainly in business, more and more responsibility is being pushed down the organization. Most organizations, except our top-heavy education system, are becoming more open to a bottom-up way of operating. Creativity comes from tension not from rigidity.

So, “Why are schools lagging behind societal change, especially now when change is the new normal?”

The answer has to be a failure of imagination and leadership. For a complete analysis of the problem see my article, “Are American Schools the Newest Black Swan?”

We MUST leverage our diversity NOT homogenize it. “Out of many – many.” To do this we must understand that there are two kinds of diversity: Social and Informational and both are necessary for optimal results.


There is one thing teachers can do. BEFORE telling students to open their “textbooks,” organize them into self-directed teams and ask them to analyze through questioning why what they are doing is valuable to them.

If you teach algebra or history, ask your students to decide for themselves why algebra or history is important; that way they buy-in to the need for them to learn algebra or history. The same goes for any subject.


Invest 7 minutes watching this narrated video of an actual session on the subject of “Why Thinking Is Important?”