"Excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence-and thrive on chaos." Tom Peters
The ideas presented here—and as a PDF (revised as of
19 March 2013), hastily and in the roughest form—were developed subsequent to a discussion during my New Zealand sojourn on building a cadre of teachers that matches the likely needs of these turbulent times. (My only previous stick-your-neck-out effort of consequence concerning education is recorded as Chapter 22 in my book Re-Imagine: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age.)
"The best educated nations win."
Or: "The best educated and most entrepreneurial nations win."
There is more to life than education.
There is more to life than entrepreneurship.
Yet these two variables are increasingly important in the years ahead—and those years are rushing toward us at an unprecedented pace. In technology change, yesterday's decade is today's two years—or less.
If these two variables are important, then it more or less follows that our teaching corps—especially for the first 8 grades—are the most important members of our society. (Singapore more or less—mainly more—believes this and acts upon it.)
Implication: The very best and the very brightest and the most energetic and enthusiastic and entrepreneurial and tech-savvy of our university graduates must—must, not should—be lured into teaching. (They need not stay for life—one would be happy with 5 years, ecstatic with 10.)
In the USA and other nations (many, if not most, if not almost all), the variables set out above and associated with excellence in teaching required to meet the challenges of 2020, let alone 2040, alas, do not describe our fresh caught teachers. One could even argue, stopping short of cynicism, that those variables are often the antithesis of the ones associated with those attracted to teaching today. This is simply unacceptable in the face of the most likely scenarios for economic excellence—or, for that matter, survival.
(FYI: To reiterate one of the initial points—we must attract instinctively entrepreneurial candidates—there are more of such candidates than one might imagine. Attracting entrepreneurial candidates, of course, requires a system that is open to change and which celebrates rather than condemns rebels. Concerning the proclivity or fitness for entrepreneurial adventures, Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus put it this way: "All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves we were all self-employed ... finding our food, feeding ourselves. That's where human history began. ... As civilization came we suppressed it. We became labor because they stamped us, 'You are labor.' We forgot that we are entrepreneurs." Bottom line: Super-genes are not required to foretell entrepreneurial talent—the millions upon millions converting to entrepreneurial ventures courtesy the Web are more or less proof of Yunus' assertion.)
Finding and educating these new-criteria teachers requires a revolution in both content and the incentive structure needed to attract the best of the best—and to induce them to experiment boldly once aboard the education train.
(FYI: Re content, there is a school of thought prevalent in the USA which demands an immediate curricular shift toward "STEM"—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. To be sure, no harm done, lots to applaud. However, Rhode Island School of Design President John Maeda recommends instead "STEAM"—science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. His argument is based upon an assessment of future bases of competitive advantage as computers make vast inroads to existing jobs; the concept arguably—or, in my opinion, inarguably—makes a great deal of sense.)
This necessary revolution in teacher inducement and development, no matter the urgency assigned, will not happen overnight—or in the next five years, even if one and all, including teachers' unions, agreed on the premises above.
In the meantime, we cannot wait ...
Our universities today do turn out magnificent "products" who can meet the specs above and de facto launch the education revolution—today. We must immediately move to unmistakably and with governmental approval and towering private sector contributions bag these candidates as they march out of the graduation auditorium with their spanking new degrees.
(FYI: In my opinion, the impact of the new technologies is such that we need a very young teacher corps—one that has the demographics of the Facebook or Twitter new-hire corps. Assertion: With rare exceptions, older teachers—35+??—will have the devil's own time identifying with the experiences of the students who walk into their classrooms, circa 2020—and, for that matter, circa 2013. And the devil's own time embracing new "upside down" approaches to teaching. For example, as many forward thinkers have said, the teacher must in effect partner with, rather than dictate to, students who in many ways are more technically qualified than they are; and partner with students in ventures that de facto foreshadow a penchant for entrepreneurship.)
Role models needed: Teach For America is an example of an approach that appears to provide a semblance of a road map for others. It is hardly "the answer" to this "save the nation" need. But it does provide an exceptionally worthwhile and tested case—both its successes and failures, the latter of which illustrate the pushback that this entrepreneurial approach induces in, at least, the USA. Teach For America, however, is almost proof positive that, under the right circumstances, the very best and the very brightest from leading institutions can be attracted in numbers to, at least, a stint as educators; this proven attraction predates the 2007++ crash, so it cannot be written off as merely a response to a lousy job market for graduates. (Teach For America is but one example. In particular, courtesy charter schools among other efforts, a plethora of de facto experiments are in train in the USA.)
Also, in the role model set, could be the likes of the Robertson Scholars—a "full ride" university scholarship program established by philanthropist Julian Roberts and overseen by an evaluation process so rigorous that it merits comparison to the Rhodes program, though at the university entrance juncture. In one way or another, identifying these future "save the nation" teachers is a bit like developing sports champions; while one can go far too far, ID-ing talent early is an imperative strategy. Which is to say that the attraction to, in effect, nation-building-through-a-matchless-teaching-corps should mark university entrance as well as post-university work. (FYI: This latter assertion about funneling top university candidates into the system in no way suggests funneling them toward schools of education—alas, the latter are often laggards rather than leaders in developing the needed skills laid out at the beginning of this paper.)
From the earliest days of the Web, it was obvious to many of us that the impact of the internet on education was going to be huge. An early inkling of the tectonic shift that was underway was the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Open Course Ware project. Initiated in 1999, the project provided materials for its first set of undergraduate courses free on the Web in 2002. By November 2011, there were 2,080 MIT undergraduate and graduate level courses available online. MIT's groundbreaking initiative has been followed up by many other academic institutions, and the body of work that has been created is a valuable resource for people all over the world.
This open sharing of intellectual property has moved up to a completely different level with the advent of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Pioneered in 2007 by David Wiley of Utah State University, MOOCs reached a turning point in 2011 when a course on artificial intelligence enrolled a staggering 160,000 participants!
MOOCs are now available on a wide variety of subjects and typically run for about eight weeks. They are (so far) free of charge, and access is unrestricted. MOOCS exploit the latest Web technology and accommodate a wide variety of educational content, delivery media, and learning support mechanisms. New organizations such as Udacity, and Coursera have sprung up alongside Carnegie Mellon's OLI, Harvard's edX project and MIT's OCW to help fulfill the burgeoning worldwide demand for online education.
I recently enrolled in a MOOC delivered by Professor Kevin Werbach of Pennsylvania University. The subject is Gamification—defined as "the use of games design techniques and games elements in non-games contexts." The professor is using feedback from the participants in a book he is writing on Gamification. So, he benefits from the interactive nature of the Web experience along with his students, and he is no doubt picking up plenty of feedback from the 10,000 participants who are still active—out of the 77,000 who originally signed up for the course. This 10,000 out of 77,000 might seem disappointing, but program monitoring shows that around 44,000 people are accessing the two hours per week of video content but not submitting the course work.
I'm finding the MOOC learning process much more engaging than I had expected. There is sufficient assessment, albeit of a fairly mechanical level, to help me consolidate my learning. I feel that I've picked up something useful that I can apply in my work. I haven't ventured far into the community forum of the course, as hacking my way through thousands of posted comments doesn't feel like a productive use of my time. Maybe next time.
Critics of MOOCs are dismissive about the educational value added. They point out that there's no credible qualification issued at the end of a MOOC. A "certificate of attendance" issued to participants who complete the course may not hold any weight in getting a job or earning credit toward more formal education. Critics say such mass access education is never going to provide the quality or intensity of focus that can be gained in a tailored academic course. Perfectly valid criticisms, perhaps, but personally I think they miss the main point.
These early manifestations of open courses are an indication of a shift in the balance of power away from educators being in control to learners taking control of their own personal development. I see these open courses a bit like a smorgasbord of educational offerings. They offer a whole new menu of exciting courses for students who want the scope to pick and choose what they spend their time learning. Life-long learning becomes a viable option for people with the resolve to do the work and access to a decent broadband service!
What will happen if providers start to charge for course admission remains to be seen, but for the moment, as an ongoing experiment in educational flash mobbing, it makes for fascinating watching.
Tom has said, "We tell our kids to 'be still,' then tell them to 'read history books'—which are replete (100%!) with tales of people ... who never sat still."
This is obviously not the ideal way to cultivate a talented workforce. The education system in the United States still seems to be attempting to churn out well-behaved factory workers. With the enormous pressure placed on teachers to produce sufficient test results, the classroom becomes more about test preparation than exploration and discovery. Albert Einstein, long since deceased, had this to say:
"It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry."
We recently heard from Matt Lintner, a teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia. He sent Tom his reflections on what children are learning, and not learning, in school in a piece he titled "Race to Nowhere." Tom asked Matt if we could share his thoughts with you, and Matt kindly agreed. We urge you to take a moment, read what Matt has to say, and think about what you can do to help our youth learn what truly matters. Please, fan the flames of their curiosity.
Race to Nowhere
Management guru Peter Drucker famously said, "What gets measured gets managed." But what if we're measuring the wrong things? Consider the following: you can graduate from high school with straight A's without ever having:
Perhaps most tellingly, you never learned to say "No."
America can continue down the path of national standards, high stakes testing, longer school days, expanded calendar, merit pay, and all the rest—but none of it will cure what ills us if we're not focused on what truly matters.
Fairfax County, VA
The Sunday New York Times had a special section called "Education Life." One article, "Career U.," describes some of the changes we might expect in university education. For example, the president of the University of Michigan was surprised (to put it mildly) when she learned five years ago that 10% of incoming freshmen, some 600, had started their own businesses while in high school. She and her colleagues responded by creating about 100 entrepreneurship courses. The article tickles our imagination by describing a few of the more inventive new master's programs:
All in all, a worthwhile read.
[Above, snow, 3 January 2010—about a 2-foot accumulation.]
Little is more important to America's long-term future than its true #1 "service industry"—research universities. There are rankings and rankings and rankings, and some are confusing as hell. Among the top 50, various polls give us, roughly, between 50% and 70%. (Add in the Europeans and Canada and the number is consistently at or above 90%.) In one poll, raw # of scientific papers, American universities took the top 24 slots. Given budget woes affecting the likes of the University of California, all of whose campuses are usually in the top 100, the situation is always precarious.
The Financial Times reported yesterday that Harvard b-school students created, and over 1,000 have signed, an oath specifying acceptable behavior. Among other things, they promise to pay equal attention to "shareholders, co-workers, customers and the society in which they operate." On the one hand, as writer Michael Skapinker says, it's easy to dismiss; the oath hardly represents "breakthrough thinking"—except perhaps in prestigious b-schools and on Wall Street. On the other hand, it is perhaps a small step in a useful direction, and deserves a tiny nod or at least temporarily suspended laughter. Some of this seems to follow not only the financial crisis, but the famous/infamous recent Jack Welch disclaimer. Welch, father-patron saint-cheerleader-haranguer-in-chief of the ubiquitous "shareholder value movement," recently dissed the primacy of shareholder value as "the dumbest idea in the world." Presumably dismissing as scurrilous the primary thing you stood for in your widely heralded career does not tarnish your reputation (Welch was just reported as starting an online B-school); to me, it makes the former GE icon a self-anointed laughingstock.
Speaking of laughingstock: My b-school alma mater, Stanford, has just appointed a new dean, Garth Saloner. I am sure he is a fine fellow, doubtless very bright—and of course I wish him well. But Stanford surely wins no out-of-the-box honors; in fact they seem to have defined "trapped in the same frigging box we've been in approximately forever." The new dean is a white-male-economist. Dear God-oh-God-oh-God-oh-God, why why why why why why another economist? Solaner, the latest poster child for non-diversity, makes the third or fourth economist in a row—I've lost track. (Before the economist streak started, we had an accountant who starred in the Enron fiasco.) The lack of imagination is nothing short of mind-boggling. I only wish I'd been giving my b-school a lot of money, so that I'd have the unalloyed pleasure of cutting them off.
Speaking of the Stanford b-school redux: I recently mentioned an excellent Harvard Business Review article, "The Buck Starts (and Stops) at Business School," in which author and former b-school dean Joel Podolny says at one point, "The degree of contrition at business schools seems small compared with the magnitude of the offense." In the issue of Stanford Business I just received, the outgoing dean, Robert Joss, offers his own assessment of b-school contrition: "A better balance is needed."
Please pass the barf bag!
An attendee of one of our Brand You Workshops, Steve Wood, shared his wife Cullen's project with us. It's called Cullen's abc's. She's a preschool teacher in California and in her spare time she records what she calls "idea videos" on YouTube. Cullen gives simple information of interest to preschoolers in a clear and friendly way. It's a great use of current technology to share her passion for teaching with the world. What we find fascinating is that, according to Steve, a Chinese news agency has published an article about the videos.
What kind of inspiration does this spark for you? Does it make you want to create your own "idea videos" for something you're passionate about? Does it make you want to find the same type of videos done by preschool teachers in, say, Russia for your children to watch? Let us know.
Sometimes a thousand well chosen words can change your view of something important. So it was for me with a brief piece in yesterday's New York Times, "Why Is Income Inequality in America So Pronounced? Consider Education," by Tyler Cowan. To make a short story even shorter, Cowan cites several serious academic studies that conclude we've given far too much weight to outsourcing and the riches of the top 1% as cause of rising wage and wealth inequality. The true culprit, to an overwhelming degree, is the growing chasm between the prospects of those who have (or don't have) a college degree. It's almost that simple, and I urge you to read the article.
(NB: The author admits his answer is not for the ages. The growing potency of technology means that even the college sheepskin holders will be under attack fairly soon. But for now that sheepskin matters ... a lot.)
Speaking of world trade and competitiveness, and if you are not depressed enough by the news and images from Baghdad, try the December 2006 issue of Bloomberg Markets. (I command you to do so. Whoops, I am powerless.) The cover story, a variant on the life of a T-shirt is: "The Secret World of Modern Slavery: Steel used to build cars and appliances in the U.S. starts with forced labor in Brazil." The piece will turn your stomach—and, remember, Bloomberg Markets is not exactly home to left wing extremism.
When you get back from gagging in the bathroom, or if you survive shooting yourself, dive into a Bloomberg companion piece, "How Test Companies Fail Your Kids: The $2.8 billion industry hires $10-an-hour graders for exams that control U.S. schools." I'm far too old to lightly use a word like "unbelievable." But this stuff is ... unbelievable. Try "layed off" janitors who majored in "Phylosophy/Humanity" grading essays that determine our kids' life success and our teachers' employment prospects. This article would be hilarious were it not of such surpassing importance. Again, I underscore that this comes from Bloomberg, not the PR arm of our national teachers union.
This week's U.S. News & World Report, in its cover story, observes that in the last 5 years (a more or less "recovery"), entry level wages for college grads have gone down! Women: 3.5%. Men: 7.3%.
That's a big deal given that "intellectual capital" intensity is supposed to keep us afloat for the next few years/decades/"forever."
Great snippet in this week's Newsweek. "Keep On Truckin'" describes In-Cab University, "the first accredited college catering to the trucking community. Drivers, whose classes start this week, listen to lectures while on the road and submit assignments at rest stops and loading docks using cell phones and Wi-Fi." One driver-student, Stephen Fraser, 38 and a business major, says: "Rather than driving all day and dreaming about lottery winnings, I'm actually using my mind." Several fleets are covering the $225 per credit hour cost. Courses are offered in science, business, the humanities, and personal growth (the latter addressing such relevant issues as long-distance relationships).
Talk about a positive spin for the tech revolution! Congrats to the creators of In-Cab University, the "freshman" drivers—and the companies that are ponying up.
A lot of our test frenzy has been fueled by test scores from Asia. To begin with, the deal has always been phony. Almost all Americans take the test—and most go to some sort of college. In Asia typically only the elite take the test. Hence our average is bound to be lower; our top kids test the same as theirs.
And if that was not enough, the cost to Asian kids is enormous. E.g., a 7(!)-year-old in Hong Kong committing suicide over test scores. A Japanese mother strangling to death a neighbor's 2-year-old who beat out her daughter for a pre-school slot. Moreover, research shows that given the nutty nature of the Asians' prep for the tests, the post-test retention of stuff is about zilch (lowest in the world). Thai teacher: "Students can't really read or write. All they know how to do is tick a box next to a multiple-choice question."
Perhaps the above explains at least a little of the answer to the question of why we keep producing entrepreneurs and Nobel Prize winners; we don't manage to suppress quite as much natural creativity-curiosity as our Asian friends—though our All Kids Left Behind act is trying to fix that.
(Source for a lot of this is a fascinating new book, The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, by Alexandra Robbins.)
I was rushing and got my dates confused in "Book of the Century." It's fixed now—and thanks for letting me know. (I am shamefaced!)
Catching up on my newspaper reading, I came across this contentious nugget from the Business Section of the Boston Sunday Globe on July 9:
"Today's business schools have strayed from that original mission of stewardship, according to [Harvard Business School's] Rakesh Khurana ... While trumpeting their production of leaders, they have failed to define leadership in the context of the public good and enshrined as their highest ideal the maximizing of shareholder value, he contended ... Misdeeds at companies like Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco can be traced in part to a 'de-professionalization' of managers who put the pursuit of profits over their commitment to the broader society."
And the expected response from U of Chicago's Steven Kaplan: "He's confused. It's hard to understand why he's saying there's a problem or a failure. By and large, the goal of maximizing shareholder value does the right thing for companies. And in the long run, it's good for the economies in which companies operate."
Is Khurana confused? Is there no problem? And is the commitment of business leadership to the public good less important than shareholder rights?
It's an unassailable truth that brains and brawn do not mix. You hardly hear a peep about sports prowess coming from MIT, Cal Tech, or Chicago. Harvard et al. take their sports very seriously, but rarely at the Division I championship level. That's why I love it that Stanford won its ... 12th straight ... Division I Director's Cup. (Okay, I went there to B.School.) Hence the myth of brains or brawn suffers a fatal blow—as I see it. Some say the secret is Stanford's prowess in "minor" sports: swimming, baseball, tennis, etc. "Minor"? You must be kidding. I'll surely agree that our Rose Bowl trips have been few and far between of late. (Two in a row while I was getting my MBA, thanks in part to Heisman winner Jim Plunkett.) Basketball is a powerhouse—a string of Pac Ten championships, and a Final Four appearance a couple of years ago. There's more, my real turn-on: Stanford's women's programs. Wow! Great facilities! Great coaches! Great records!
Brains & brawn. A non-starter? Think again. (FYI: Hats off to Williams for its 8th straight Div III Director's Cup victory.)
Jim McGee, writing in the Future Tense blog over at Corante, put up a post back in February titled "A reading list for aspiring knowledge workers." It seems like quite an interesting list. Just so happens that one of our fairly recent Cool Friends, Patricia Ryan Madson, is on the list for her book Improv Wisdom. Must be a good list.
Sure it's a little thing. Sure Susan thought I was nuts.
I don't care. I think it's important.
A local school had a fabulous increase in standardized math test scores. Very cool. In the local paper, the Principal said, "The significant jump is due to the hard work and dedication of our teachers and administrators—and is not the typical increase one would expect in a year."
Quiz: What's wrong with that quote?
Okay, it's a rhetorical question. I'll provide my "slightly" altered version: "The significant jump is due to the hard work and dedication of our students and teachers and administrators—and is not the typical increase one would expect in a year."
Am I a nitpicker? Or not? Your call.
(PS: Flu struck—hence my small contributions of late. Ha! Haven't missed a speech. Off at noon for Key Biscayne for Merrill Lynch.)
Yup. Tom does get off on taking gratuitous whacks at business schools.
The latest. Remember, a couple of days ago, my "Sales90"? Now, it's "Sales111." It got me thinking: Why don't B.Schools (or, at least the so-called "elite") teach ... SALES ... anymore? We've got marketing up the gazoo—and marketing is indeed important—but by and large no bloody sales. Obviously sales are important. (Duh.) And we do "know some stuff."
(Whoops: and, remember, no Innovation to speak of, no Creativity, no Implementation (à la Bossidy's book/Execution), no Presenting & Listening/Interviewing ... the two most important practical Tools. 'Nuff said redux.)
So: Please explain the above. Anything Goes: "Sales is a given." "Sales can't be taught." "There's not one bloomin' prof who'd know his left foot from his right on the topic." Etc.
It's National Enterprise Week in the UK. Our next Prime Minister Gordon Brown is launching Enterprise Summer Schools to train British 14- to 16-year-olds to become "the next generation of British entrepreneurs." Instead of the usual long summer holiday, these lucky students will get the chance to go through training modules on innovation, enterprise, decision-making, problem-solving, management, and leadership; a sort of Re-imagine Boot Camp!
Shame that these young entrepreneurs will all too often be growing up in an education system that models the opposite: order, regulation, standardised curricula, hierarchy, etc., and then pass on to work where their bosses will talk a good game on innovation and entrepreneurship, but run regimes where "Compliance rules, OK!"
The big question is what is it going to take to disrupt this pattern and give our budding entrepreneurs a real chance to blossom? Much more than today's "creativity summit" in London, where Mr Brown and 200 specially invited business leaders will discuss how creativity and innovation can boost British business. Better they spend their time together talking about how they systematically suppress any sign of entrepreneurship! I wish.
Business schools are, well, so funny. Or, rather, so stupid it's funny. Read in the Financial Times that MIT's Sloan School is headin' for "with it" land ... courtesy a new advisory board ("Business chiefs to advise MIT Sloan"). The new Alfred P. Sloan Management Society includes such luminaries as former AT&T CEO-Superstar Michael Armstrong (see above a brief recitation of his demonstrated incompetence). Armstrong wants to pass on his "wisdom"! He told the FT, "We are a small group of experienced and interested people who want to become engaged for the benefit of MIT Sloan." Wow, I hear that Ken Lay also has some free time—at least for a while. Or how about Bernie Ebbers, by speakerphone?
While publicizing Re-imagine! in the U.K. two years ago, I did a seminar at Said Business School at Oxford. I had a terrific time, and really enjoyed my interaction with Dean Anthony Hopwood. He's leaving, and I just read that they've chosen a replacement. I'm sure designee Colin Mayer is a fine and brilliant and hyper-qualified fellow. But, damn it, he's a frigging finance guy. Why in the hell can't biz schools give us a dollop of deans with specialties in Innovation or Sales (or even Marketing) or Design or Organizational Transformation or Leadership*? (*Why is it that many of us agree that inspired "leadership" is of paramount importance to enterprise, but only three "universities" specialize in it—Annapolis, West Point, Colorado Springs? The "real" B-schools "cover it" by the likes of sending first-year students on a 3-day "ropes course" before the "real classes" ... on FINANCE ... commence.) Gawd, how I hate B-schools (just in case you were wondering or had forgotten).
Maybe others have done it, but I was fascinated to read on AOL news this morning that Vail Unified School District in Arizona is converting its high school to no textbooks, all laptops, 100% wireless.
It is true that most of the 9/11 principals were Saudi. It's true that women's rights are "meager" in Saudi. (Kuwaiti women got the Right to Vote yesterday!) It is also true that the internal terrorist threats in Saudi are high enough that my hotel had a camouflaged artillery piece at the front driveway (yes, I said artillery piece).
None the less ... I HAD A BOFFO TIME IN THE KINGDOM! Post 9/11, Americans have avoided the country like the plague, and thence a visitor was looked upon as an Excellent Aberration. Fact is, I met an extraordinary group of public & private & university execs yesterday who were exceptionally personable and who aim for nothing more than the improvement of their country and the lot of their fellow citizens. I considered myself an ambassador as much as a "speaker," and feel that I made several true friends, a couple of whom I invited to my Vermont farm.
To survive, we must learn (or re-learn) to be friends, while reserving the right to chide that of which we disapprove—e.g., the absence of women's rights (Saudi has allowed women to do the full bit in schooling, and apparently there are now more women than men with PhDs ... but the women still cannot work). I must also add that while I unflinchingly support our energetic efforts to deal with the War on Terror, I was appalled to hear the stories of our officials' harassment of senior Saudis on obviously innocent missions to the U.S. (I haven't confirmed this—Newsweek take note—but one Veeeery Senior Saudi Exec refused to visit the U.S. because he wanted to bring his wife, but on her Visa application she apparently had to certify that she was not a prostitute. If true ... )
The "back from" means, alas, not Spring-y Vermont but arrival into my "second home country" ... England. I'm taking R & R today and being cosseted by my Great Pals at the Four Seasons London as I prepare for my assault on Warsaw tomorrow.
NB: And re the above, as long as California Governator Arnie keeps driving his Hummer, we're gonna need the Saudis as pals! Q.E.D.
One of Tom's coolest friends, Dennis Littky, is an education innovator. NPR's All Things Considered broadcast a story about one of his schools yesterday(4/25). If you're interested in finding out more about what Dennis and his cohorts are up to, visit the Big Picture website.
Just a thought: Who, in their Right Mind would grow up desiring to be a "Master" of "Administration"? (E.g.: "I can file faster than you can! And prove it! After all, I'm a Master of ADMINISTRATION!")
Whoops, there I go again! I don't "hate" MBAs. I just bloody well wonder what kinda person would want to be a "master" of "administration"—when, say, you might have become a Snowboard Instructor at Stratton! (Or at least if you are determined to be an "MBA," join me and become a Master Bullshit Artist! Or better yet, MBAWGTFTCPLLACCEOI—MasterBullshitArtistWhoGetsToFlyToCoolPlacesLikeLisbonAndCallCEOsIdiots.)
Did I share this with you before? (Peter?) I do believe in advanced education! Incl BizEducation! So while I'd dump the MBA, I'd add-substitute the following 6 degree programs, or some such:
MMM1 (Master of Metaphysical Management)
MMM2 (Master of Metabolic Management)
MGLF (Master of Great Leaps Forward)
MTD (Master of Talent Development)
W/Mw"GTD"w/oC (Woman/Man who "Gets Things Done" without Certificate)
DE (Doctor of Enthusiasm)
(See a bit more on this in my "REI.500" "master" PP presentation.)
Speaking of competitiveness, Saturday's FTmagazine (Financial Times) served up a cover story titled "Oxford Blues: How U.S. Academia Left Britain's Elite Universities in Its Wake."
America's answer, in short, is fiery, out-in-the-open, no-holds-barred competitiveness. Competing for Alumni bucks. Competing for Profs. Competing for Students. Competing for Grants. Competing for Recognition. Competing for the right to use the word Excellence per se. The competitive ferocity is most clearly exemplified, the FT reports, by Harvard's relatively new president, Larry Summers. (Academic superstar, former Clinton Treasury Secretary, energetic and aggressive in ways that give new meaning to the words.)
The results of the drive evinced by Summers and his determined peers—competitors, from Cambridge (Massachusetts/MIT) to Palo Alto (Stanford)—can partly be measured by the fact that the U.S. bags three-quarters of all Nobel Prizes, and is home to 700 of the world's 1,200 top academics, as measured by scientific citations. Also, a research study conducted last year by Shanghai University (they're watching!) concluded that the four "best universities" in the world are American: Harvard (#1), Berkeley, Cal Tech, Stanford. The UK's Cambridge bagged the 5th slot. The new chief at Cambridge acknowledges the Americans'/our competitiveness, which she contrasted to the British cast of mind. "Americans," she said, "are not embarrassed by ambition."
Which could lead me to segue back to my first comment—our generic unabashed, "energetic" approach to life wins Nobels in medicine, and probably explains more than a little about gun violence, Hummer-love and warrior tendencies as well.
"There is little evidence of the correlation of [personality] test scores with school performance, managerial effectiveness, team building or career counseling."—New York Times review (10.10.04) of The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves, by Annie Murphy Paul.
Ah! Another of my deep-seated biases confirmed!
My friend the educator Dennis Littky (see my 09.07 Blog on his boffo new book, The Big Picture) reports on graffiti that one of his students left on the side of a teacher's truck: "Teaching = Listening. Learning = Talking."
I love that!
TEACHING = LISTENING.
LEARNING = TALKING.
Same for "bossing," I'd vow. Or how about: "Leading is Listening." Or: "BAD 'leaders' have all the answers. GOOD leaders have the best Questions."
If "engagement" is the heart of education or developing a Wow Team, then there is no doubt that top leader kudos go to the top listeners. Axiom: The best ... ONLY? ... way to truly engage someone is to listen to them. (Right??) And ... Part 2 ... engaged people are ... duh ... ENGAGED ... THAT IS, TALKING.
So, until further notice:
TEACHING = LISTENING.
LEARNING = TALKING.
What do you think? (TALK TO ME! I'M LISTENING!)
Daniel Altman at Business 2.0 weighs in on the outsourcing debate; education figures prominently.
What we're talking about on the front page.
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
What we're talking about
on the front page.