Creating Better Educational Institutions
post # 205 — October 4, 2006 — a General post
Both Stanford and Yale have recently announced new curricula for their business schools, and in both cases the reports Iâ€™ve seen suggest that both elite institutions have missed the point.
In both cases, what they have redesigned is the subject matter or course content of what they will study. However, itâ€™s not the content which develops you as a student. Reading about and discussing managing people doesnâ€™t make you any good at all at DOING it until you have had the chance to try it out in practice, with guided feedback.
Knowledge by itself is actually not whatâ€™s crucial in our success. Itâ€™s half-life is very short, and in todayâ€™s world knowledge is readily accessible for free. So any institution that tried to build its success on transmitting knowledge would be doomed to irrelevancy.
The key topics in education are not knowledge but two issues that straddle knowledge: ATTITUDES (which come before knowledge in determining your future) and SKILLS (meaning can you actually do anything.) Educational institutions do not give nearly enough thought to their power to shape attitudes and develop skills.
In this blog and elsewhere, weâ€™ve complained that people are badly prepared for work life and that our educational institutions are no up to the job we really need them to perform.
So, letâ€™s get constructive here. If you were going to design an educational institution that really prepared someone for a professional working career, and helped them develop the key skills, what elements would you put in place?
How would you design things so that we develop people with the right attitudes? What about expelling people with the wrong attitutdes?
Should educational institutions be either screening wrong attitude people or developing right attitude people? If so, how?
Similarly, what are the key skills that educational institutions should be building in people who are destined for professional work careers, and how can these skills be developed?
A couple of examples to get you started. When was the last time someone was expelled from an MBA program for being â€œnot very good at getting people to trust him/her?â€ If winning and earning trust is so key to success in life, why do we graduate people who cannot do it?
If honor and integrity are so important, why donâ€™t all educational institutions have and enforce an honor code (â€œI will not lie or cheat and will not tolerate those who do.â€)
If communicating is so important, why donâ€™t we give prizes to the people who have learned the most about their fellow studentsâ€™ (IE were the best listeners?)
Why donâ€™t we have special counseling programs for those students who seem unable to develop a circle of friends? (Not to help them socially, but to help them develop a crucial skill.)
OK everybody — letâ€™s get creative here. Letâ€™s offer some really good processes and practices for the educational institution truly designed to help prepare people for professional life. Ideas?
(By the way, this is not an idle exercize. As regular readers know, I gave a speech last Friday to 150 business school professors from central and eastern Europe. I have their email addresses. I PROMISE you they will receive the ideas you post here. Let’s change the world! )