Better Work Starts with Better Schools

A couple of times over the last few months, people have asked me whether we tackle the topic of education in Humanize. We don’t, specifically, but I get where the question is coming from. We argue in Humanize that shifting from a mechanical view to a more human view when it comes to leadership and management will unlock new power and potential in our organizations. But if you start to think more deeply about what that means, one of the first places that will get your attention is our education system. Human organizations are different than what we’ve got today–so is our education system preparing people for this new reality?

Not so much. Tammy Erickson has a great blog post on Harvard Business Review that talks about what kids today are expecting from education. One of her conclusions:

Thus our current approach to education was designed for a different age. It was modeled both on the interests of industrialization and in the image of it: specialization into separate subjects, standardized curricula, conformity, batch processing — by age group. The system was designed to leverage a “lock step” approach over set periods of time and using broadcast delivery methods to prepare students effectively for known jobs.

The model worked well for 100 years because it matched between the needs of employers. But, as we all know, most of the jobs of tomorrow will not be industrial jobs. Even those in the manufacturing sector will require a knowledge-based set of skills and behaviors. The gap between the output of our educational system and the job demands of the current century is enormous — and growing wider. And the kids intuitively recognize the gap. They’re asking for a change.

Imagine how long we will pay the price for waiting to change our education system.

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