In the book, ALL THE MOVING PARTS: ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE MANAGEMENT, I talk about the necessary elements that make up an effective and successful company. One of those elements is the company’s employees.
And in order to be useful and purposeful within the company, the employees, including rank-and-file as well as leadership – must be well-educated. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are university-trained. In fact these days, and for several decades previous, well-educated has taken on an entirely different meaning from that of being educated at a university. Regrettably, because of their state-run structures, many universities do not prepare their students to know very much about anything. Thus, an effective education actually comes from the student’s own devices and that of their parents. We can all reflect on those individuals who are currently running multi-billion dollar companies and who are college drop-outs. So, college is not a guarantee of the achievement of a successful education. And, in public high schools, where those in charge have determined that only students who plan to attend university will be championed, the value of that education has been diminished as well. What is the defining feature of the loss? – It’s the lack of what I will call practical education. Children and older students learn in a variety of ways – we’ve all heard about auditory and visual learners (those who learn by hearing things, such as lectures by talking heads in a classroom, and those who must see things in print in order to learn them). The practical education is a similar idea – young people who are in the process of learning must have practical experiences and practical examples given to them of the ideas that are being explored (that is, learned). Thus, when the so-called “educators” decided to cut out of the curriculum what was then called “vocational education” (or, hands-on experiences using the same curricular materials but employing different ways of learning the material) then at least a quarter of the student population (and possibly far more) were cut out of the educational process. If they learned, they learned by dropping out of school and teaching themselves – such as Bill Gates did. There’s a recent editorial in the WSJ that reminded me of this fact – a woman named Virginia Foxx is proclaiming the need to “stop calling it ‘vocational training'” and citing the belief of one of her professors who contended that “‘Training is done for animals; humans should be receiving ‘education’.” This is very true – and those of you who know me well, know that I don’t believe in “training” for animals, either – it’s typically a disgraceful exercise. So, I have long proclaimed that we should do as Ms. Foxx advises and return to offering all varieties of “education” – some with a hands-on focus and some with the didactic (classroom lecture) approach for auditory learners – in other words, practical education. One of the most important things that we, as a society, can do for the workforce of the future is to ensure that all students going through our so-called educational processes are able to receive important information in the way that they will best be able to absorb and understand that information. No more of the “one-size-fits-all; everyone must receive a university degree” – it’s a vast waste of resources and time for some students.