Friday, January 29, 2010

Business model for Education

I used to blog for my old company, but they took the blog down. I am
not actually allowed to own the writings I put up on that blog, but as
I reference them on occasion in my writing I am putting those articles
up in my archives here for reference sake. I'll put the tag GS on those
articles noting that they were originally published on the

Business model for Education

I’ve read “The World is Flat” by Terry Friedman, and next on my list is “Disrupting Class; How Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Curtis Johnson and Michael Horn. I’ve listened to and argued with those who think education is failing. I’ve watched the respect for the education profession sink to new lows.

I’ve seen education move from educators researching how students learn and attempting to meet those needs to schools giving themselves ulcers trying to pass some silly test. I once even had a principal blanch when I told her I wasn’t going to disrupt my planned curriculum so I could spend more time drilling students in using a specific method for answering essay questions. (The sad part is she was a very good principal)

Schools need to meet the needs of the top performing students, they need to meet the needs of low performing students, and they need to meet the needs of every student in between. Today’s schools will not only educate the workers for tomorrow’s business, but they will also turn out the leaders of tomorrow’s businesses.

Many of the top leaders in business Bill Gates (Harvard University), Steve jobs (Reed College), Steve Wozniak (University of California, Berkeley) all dropped out of college. Many other leaders have some very good education, Lee Iacocca (LehIgh University), Warren Buffet (Columbia University).

It seems to me the theme for many an education critic is something along the lines of schools should be more like business. The problem is schools aren’t business.

Most new businesses fail, do you want to have the school in your new neighborhood fail? Of the businesses that have been around as long as public education in this country most make the bulk of their money from something other than the original product they started with. (Wrigley soap)

I think when critics say that schools need to follow the lead of business they have it backwards. Business needs to follow the lead of schools. As Jeff Utecht says, “ we (technology people) are not just pushing this stuff because we like it, but because it’s our world today. Today’s world is changing, just as yesterday’s world did before. The leaders of today’s world are already educated and are busy picking up experience. Tomorrow’s leaders are being educated today. If schools can’t teach them exactly what they need to know then they can at least teach them how to adapt and learn on their own.

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