Our Educational System has it all wrong.
By Morgan F Bryan
Before we can say what is wrong with our educational system, we should define the term.The purpose of the educational system is to:
Pass on Knowledge
Relate relevant issues to each other
Prepare individuals and groups for future situations
The passing on of knowledge is one of the oldest civilized functions. The passing on of knowledge was originally done in the form of stories told when people got together. Once languages were written, then came libraries which were repositories for knowledge.
The passion to record and relate all knowledge has remained a goal of scholars since the invention of libraries.There is no better example of that than the World Wide Web. It's original intended purpose was provide a central access site where all knowledge could be retained and for related items to be linked to each other.
The need for cross transfer of information has long been recognized as a needed but thorny issue.The issue is thorny because of the difficulty in execution of a noble idea.
As was mentioned earlier, large well organized enterprises have developed systems, involving SMEs (subject matter experts), which are specifically designed to enhance cross transfer of new ideas and concepts within and without their organizations. As in all such situations, this is not a perfect solution, but it is practical.
The preparation of individuals and groups for future situations is the single most extensive function of our educational system This is as it should be. This preparation process has three components. The first is the educational system as a whole. The second component is technical education/training. The third component is vocational education/training.
The functions identified as numbers two and three can arguably be included in the first category. Because thier more specialized characteristics, they have differences which need to be identified. The above classification was chosen as the way to do that.
Our Educational System also has three distinct components. They are University Educational Systems,
High School Educational Systems and Grade School
The University Educational System has several components. These are Graduate School, Undergraduate School and two year Associate Degree Programs.
Graduate Schools are responsible for the preparation of scholars who will perpetuate the present customs. They are responsible for basic research in both general and technical areas. They are responsible for technical qualification and training and for general managerial training and qualifications.
Undergraduate Schools are responsible for entry level technical and general training. This includes managerial training. Let us not forget the origional reason for the establishment of Universities which is to spread the knowledge of social and philosophical disciplines.These are the "liberal arts".
The "Junior" Colleges serve two purposes. The first is prepare students to enter Undergraduate Schools. The second purpose is to provide training for entry level positions in our enterprise system. This often includes vocational training.
High Schools are responsible to complete the basic educational training skills of math, reading, writing, science and history. They are responsible to make their graduates employable in the enterprise system.
Grade Schools are responsible for to teach the basic knowledge skills and to prepare its graduates for High School.
As is evident from the above description of the responsibilities of the various levels of education,its mission is both diverse and complex. Compounding the diversity issue, is the fact that both Graduate Schools and Undergraduate Schools are curriculum driven to train the next generation. These schools often do not look at all of their functional responsibilities in a balanced manner. Commonly, the matter of qualifying graduates for employment in our enterprise system is not given sufficient emphasis.
Certain disciplines are not covered in sufficient breadth and depth. For example courses in Production Management do not explain that all systems, production and administrative, are best modeled as an analog hydraulic system.This fact is of great impact for those entering the enterprise system. Because they would know that in hydraulic systems constraints limit throughput and that their elimination improves the flow. This then prepares the graduate to make improvements on the ways in which things are done within the organization for which they work.
A similar situation exists with the discipline of work measurement standards. The discipline was developed in the early part of the 20th century yet wide spread knowledge of its benefits do not exist. This is a problem of both the enterprise system and the educational system.
Simply stated, productivity improvement is key to our future economic growth. Increased productivity is achieved only by improved methods and procedures (better ways of doing things).The majority of enterprises have opportunities for systems and procedural improvements within their own organizations. Employees who have the proper knowledge can find and recommend improvements for those systems.
Knowing how to accomplish these programs makes an employee more valuable to the enterprise. The addition of the production facts and work measurement to a broader audience can be of great importance to our enterprise system in general.
At four levels of the educational system, the function of preparing graduates for employment was mentioned as existing. These levels are Graduate School, Undergraduate School, Junior College and High School.
Graduate schools often need to be more proactive with the members of the enterprise system to learn what employee requirements are for a Phd or a Masters Degree candidate.
They can also determine the blend of skills needed.
Undergraduate Schools can also benefit from being more proactive with members of the enterprise system.In this way, they can also determine the blend of skills most wanted by the enterprise system.
Because Junior Colleges often provide vocational training, they are often more aware of the realities of the work place than are other educational groupings. One of the needs of the Junior Colleges is to find out such information as how literate is computer literate? Does every one need to know how to use spread sheets? The source of this type of information is of course, the enterprise community.
High Schools are last educational institution which most students ever see. This makes their role in our educational process a critical one. More students will have the need to know how to get a job and keep a job than will go to another higher educational level. If retention levels increase, the above will be even more the case. High Schools need to provide students with training which employers want to be present in their employees.In order to know what these requirements are, contacts with the enterprise system are needed.
Here are some thoughts about the drop out situation. Many of those out do so because they see no reason to continue school. Their belief is that school provides them with no skills which can get them a job. Further they have little knowledge of the importance of keeping a job. This says that it is super important for the High School to know what is expected of an enterprise system job applicant and teach those skills. This requires both the school board and the educators to become aware to the real student needs and to also know how the local enterprise system works.
Remember the Proactive approach taken by the large and well organized businesses. Similar systems need to be set up with in the academic community. The educational system needs to look at its responsibilities from a functional point of view. This includes taking the needs of the student into account as well as the needs of employers.
More emphasis has to be placed at all levels from High Schools on up to make graduates more employable. Such efforts at the High School level will tend to lower the dropout rates of the High Schools which participate.
The subject matter relating to improving productivity, is not presently being given enough emphasis in any part of the educational system. This is to the detriment of the potential employee.
Management in most enterprises is not aware of the productivity improvements which can and should be employed within the organization. The value and uses of the tools discussed here need to be brought to the attention of senior management at all levels of activity.
About the Author
Married 4 children 4 grandchildren
Retired Management Consultant
MBA Northwestern University
BA Universary of Cincinnati
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| Some other articles by Morgan F Bryan|
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