This past weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking with a good friend of mine whom I have a great deal of respect.
She is a teacher in a low-income-area elementary school.
We had an inspiring conversation about our current school system, they way “things are” in our society today and how things “should be.”
Many of you know my thoughts on our current public school system. For those that don’t, I’ll give it to you in one sentence: it was the perfect system for the Industrial-Age economy, but almost entirely irrelevant for today’s Information-Age economy.
My argument to her was this: Corporate America is going the way of the Farm.
During the Agrarian Age, most people would not have believed that big rich farmers would ever be replaced with big buildings on rocky soil.
However, hindsight shows us that our population went from about 90% self-employed to 90% employees during the transition from Agriculture to Industry.
During this transition, the Government really got behind the public education system, because some strong lobbyist were able to prove the direct impact such a system would have on the industrialized economy.
As you can imagine, these schools were not teaching children to be farmers, blacksmiths or any other type of Agrarian-Age skill.
They were teaching them to be factory employees, cogs in the great economic machine.
Today, our educational system is still pumping out replaceable cogs.
More and more MBA graduates who can’t find a job are starting to find out how replicable they are. Have you also noticed the higher average age of retail counter employees?
We might as well create schools for farmers and blacksmiths!
My conclusion is that our schools should be focused on teaching one thing: solving problems with missing variables.
In one word: Leadership.
I do believe that we could create a school system that could accomplish this. The first two hurdles we’d have to cross would be:
1. Ending the regulatory nature of our current system of testing students on rote memorization.
These are skills that will only help you in the industrialized economy that will soon disappear.
(When I worked at a large aerospace corporation, I recall part of my cube-mate’s responsibilities was to teach people in Mexico how to do our jobs.
The leadership assured us that “the new Mexican members of the team were there to ‘assist us’ because our work load had increased so much in the past year”, but it was obvious that these people were being trained to replace us!
Corporate America as we know it is disappearing.)
2. Completely ignore the marketing allure of a diploma. As we begin to shift back to our nation’s entrepreneurial roots and jobs are harder and harder to find, people are going to be forced to become more entrepreneurial.
One thing that it certainly took to thrive in the Agrarian Age was leadership.
It wasn’t easy to run a farm, and it’s not easy to run a business.
Maybe we ought to teach the leadership of the farmers to factory workers.
A graduate of West Point Academy, Kevin served six years as an officer in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. He held a combat arms leadership role for his entire career, except one staff position, during which he obtained a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Management. He also served in Iraq during “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Since the military, Kevin has worked for Honeywell as an earned-value analyst in the aerospace department, in Phoenix Arizona.
He started testing his leadership skills in the entrepreneurial world by starting several companies, to include a real estate company and a business mailing-address company. Kevin loves to serve people who have a yearning to create a better life for themselves and others. He is passionate about teaching people the importance of something that most take for granted: relationships.
Kevin lives in Phoenix with his wife and two daughters. Read and subscribe to Kevin’s Warrior Blog here.