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How to spot an idiot

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker gave a commencement speech to students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois last year.


This link will provide you with a 2-minute excerpt of what he had to say. I’m a fan of his message.


Pritzker is an American businessman, politician, philanthropist, attorney and venture capitalist whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain. He’s a wealthy man who is now dedicating his working life to public service.


What I like about Pritzker’s message, apart from its delightful bluntness about idiots, is his insistence that kindness is the clever and evolved path.


Times are tough in schools right now and there’s an understandable temptation to solve the challenges through our basest, animal inclinations. Teachers and School Leaders need to resist that impulse.


It’ll show up in schools as insistence that we need to “crack down on” or “stamp out” student behaviour and engagement challenges with “old school disciplinary” approaches.


But this is actually the time to double down in the opposite direction. We’ve never more needed to invest kindness, compassion, care and empathy in our work … because that’s the sort of next generation we’d rather teach.


Where Pritzker and I differ is that I don’t think teachers advocating for punitive regimes are idiots. But I do think many are desperate, anxious and scared.


Light the way for these colleagues in your school so that our next important steps are in the right direction.


Keep fighting that good fight,



PS. The next stop on my grand tour of Australia will be Sydney on 27 and 28 June for educator and school leader workshops that will get you excited about teaching again. Check them out here:

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