“The Odor of Stagnation”


(p. 244)  Whenever I walk into a public school, I stagger a bit at the entrance.  The moment I step across the threshold, I’m nearly toppled by a wave of nostalgia.  Most schools I’ve visited in the twenty-first century look and feel exactly like the central Ohio, public schools I attended in the 1970s.  The classrooms are the same size.  The desks stand in those same rows.  Bulletin boards preview the next national holiday.  The hallways even smell the same.  Sure, some classrooms might have a computer or two.  But in most respects, the schools American children attend today seem indistinguishable from the ones their parents and grandparents attended generations earlier.

At first such deja vu warmed my soul.  But then I thought about it.  How many other places look and feel exactly as they did twenty, thirty, or forty years ago?  Banks don’t.  Hospitals don’t.  Grocery stores don’t.  Maybe the sweet nostalgia I sniffed on those classroom visits was really the odor of stagnation.



Pink, Daniel H.  Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live.  New York: Warner Business Books, 2001.

(Note:  italics in original.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *