I read a great article last weekend and it gave me real insight into the thinking of the business world and, in return, more clarity on what schools should be encouraging in learners. In this intriguing article by Max Nissan, a small piece of the Google hiring practice was revealed. Laszlo Blok, a Google executive, states that they do not look to hire top graduates from prestigious universities. Rather Google looks to hire people who have more “intellectual humility” meaning … they have failed more. It kind of goes against the top hiring practices at first glance but as you delve deeper into the article, it makes good sense.
Historically, top corporations have looked at the high flyers. These employees have high grades leaving their studies, they have multiple scholarships and a track records of success. There are very few times these elite students have experienced failure. Success is in their blood.
Then why are they not high on Google’s priority list? Why would a top notch corporation, a high flyer itself, not want to scoop up these heavy hitters? Blok, the head of People Operations at Google, suggests that some of these high flyers lack “intellectual humility”. They are so used to being correct that they believe that they are always right and therefore cannot take other’s thinking into consideration, even if they have a better idea. They are so married to their own thinking that seeing someone else’s idea as better is unthinkable. They are inflexible in their conceit.
Those workers who have experienced failure in the past and risen past it by changing the way they look at things are the employees that Google wants. Employees who can dismiss their own thinking when there is a better idea on the table or are open to co-creating ideas with their fellow employees. The adage, “the smartest person in the group is the group” comes to mind.
So, how does this affect the classroom? Am I suggesting that highly intelligent students are to be devalued? Far from it. What I suggest is that we have to create environments where students are open to all ideas and can be flexible in their thinking. We need to encourage students to see value in all perspectives and work collaboratively to find solutions to big problems. We need to honor outside of the box thinking as much as the “right” answer, especially when dealing with complex problems.
The good news – I think we’re getting there. I think we are seeing students work collaboratively more now than ever. We’re seeing preconceived notions of what schooling should look like being challenged daily. Alberta Education’s movement towards cross curricular competencies will create environments where our students become the engaged, ethical, entrepreneurially spirited people that creative institutions like Google are looking for. Citizens prepared to take this world to a healthy place.
Keep on Learning!