22 Nov Rote education fails the Information Age
Most school districts still are not teaching skills needed for the Information Age. Their administrations, as well as their staffs, are behind in understanding that we are way beyond the Industrial Age.
For the most part, they are teaching the classical three Rs. I am not talking about reading, writing and `rithmetic; I am talking about rote, repetition, and routine. All of these add up to regimentation, which is what was needed to assimilate people into the Industrial Age workforce. At that time, those skills were needed on an assembly line that required repetitive actions. Public schools prepared a workforce for jobs in mass production facilities or, being more politically accurate, factories.
Last year, I ended a column with the following: (http://wistechnology.com/articles/2559/ )
• While cute curricula with whimsical goals, folksy ideals, and subtle promotion of political objectives might sound good in the coffee room, teachers should be pushed out into the real world and be replaced by those who have worked in it. If nothing else, students would get a much broader insight into what they will need in the future, and teachers would get the education they are missing.
What is the shelf life of education today? How long does a high school diploma serve you? Or a college degree or MBA for that matter?
Many of today’s jobs require continual education and the ability to create new methodologies from scratch. Some require the skills to structure and develop a framework of policies and procedures where nothing currently exists. Many people are trained to handle only routine, repetitive procedures.
What is needed today is FACT-based education. What does FACT stand for? Flexibility, Adaptability, Creativity, and Technology are the skill sets needed for today’s as well as tomorrow’s jobs.
Good jobs in any industry today require a multi-faceted person that can think quickly, the ability to adapt to new situations and learning opportunities, and the capability to use technology and automated applications that facilitate the performance of tasks within the industry. In addition to the more traditional manufacturing and factory automation systems, all industries have been swept into various forms of automated travel, brokerage, financial, and medical applications.
Education is not about getting a high school diploma or a GED. What do you really qualify for today with a high school diploma? Not much, and if you have less than that, forget it. Education is about getting a bachelor’s degree or at least some post-high school vocational skills to secure a job and perhaps some type of career path.
Welcome to Wal-Mart
With the cheap digital and satellite communications we have today, call centers can be placed anywhere in the world. If a country has a good workforce that can speak English, all of the entry-level jobs that people used to do here can be outsourced.
If the new skills are not mastered, the job market looks pretty dismal. There are a lot of lower-paying jobs in the retail and service industries, but they do not really pay a living wage.
Even those jobs are getting shuffled around because of technology. A colleague pointed out that McDonald’s has consolidated order takers for some restaurants into a call center in Denver. You may drive up to one in your neighborhood, but the person actually taking your order may be a thousand miles away. McDonald’s even claims that its order accuracy has gone up.
General management skills that have been overlooked at many universities include writing well and being able to speak in front of people. These are still executive skills, so why aren’t colleges emphasizing them?
Can you get up and speak in front of an audience? Can you put together a PowerPoint presentation by yourself? Can you write well enough to craft a full-blown report or an in-depth analysis? Or are you one that only will read a speech off of paper or delegate a written report to someone else? And you want to be in management?
Those of you who get their e-mails all messed up with typos and then send them out anyway, do you know what type of impression that makes to both internal as well as external people?
Casual doesn’t mean sloppy
Many people also have said that sloppiness has crept into the workplace with dress codes that have been too laid back, and now companies and other organizations are paying the price. I see several employers trying to reverse that negative trend by requiring business dress during business hours. An owner of a business remarked that he does not want people to come to work dressed for play, he wants them to come dressed to do business.
Does that sound too conservative to some of you? As someone remarked, learn to dress as if you are taking the corporate jet to a meeting, not dressed to wash and gas it up. This is more important today because many jobs take you into the global marketplace, and showing up dressed like you are going to mow the lawn puts you at a disadvantage.
CARLINI-ISM: If you cannot learn new skills, you might as well practice “Welcome to Wal-Mart.”
Copyright 2006 – James Carlini
Recent articles by James Carlini
• James Carlini: Business Worst Practices: A new best seller?
• James Carlini: Obstructionists block network routing diversity
• James Carlini: Creativity, innovation extend to municipalities
• James Carlini: Making sure YourSpace is technologically sound
• James Carlini: Wait `till next year OK for baseball, not broadband
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.