At the Building Learning Communities 10 conference, keynote speaker, Rahaf Harfoush, told a great story about an experiment in which five monkeys were put in a room. In the corner of the room was a shelf on which sat a ripe banana. But, when a monkey reached for the banana, his pals would be hosed with cold water. It wasn’t long before the monkeys learned to beat the hell out of anyone who reached for the banana.

Next the researchers subbed-in a new monkey, who didn’t know the hands-off-the-banana rule. As you’d expect, the startled newcomer took a hard lesson form his pals. The researchers eventually subbed-in four more monkeys until none of the original monkeys were left. Nevertheless, none of the monkeys would go near the banana because they knew they would take a lickin’ from the others, even though the researchers had long since stopped spraying water.

Corporate policy–school policy–is too often informed by this monkey-mind.


N.B. this is cross-posted on November Learning’s blog.

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