Education Requires Input from Practitioners

Teaching is a proud profession that doesn’t get the respect and admiration it deserves. Few can comprehend spending hours in a classroom with twenty to twenty five energized young students. It cannot be an easy task. Today it is more important than ever to bring industry, business and labor to the table of education.

Students being introduced to industry and business occupations through programs such as MakerFest can help bring knowledge to skill sets needed to become employable in the future. You wouldn’t buy shoes without trying them on or buy a car without test driving it. Nor should we expect to choose a career path without knowing what is required.

I along with several others sat in meeting years ago with the Ohio Superintendent of Schools. She described changes being made to address educational issues with business and industry. The person aside of me identified himself as the Vice President of Goodyear. His question to her was, “How many business people were involved in their proposed changes?” Her answer was none. He went on to say that is the problem.

A local industry plant manager changed to a true team-type managerial process. Before, they would call in people from the floor after management had a solution and would try to sell the idea. He changed the process to initially include someone from the floor in quality, machine operator, skilled trade, and labor attending or the meeting would be over. This policy raised productivity, earnings and worker involvement. It led to recognition from corporate leaders sending in different companies to our plant for replication.

There is a great need to expand and develop integration processes to make quantifiable and realistic change in how we deliver education in the future. In elementary years it would be important to adopt teaching students in team or group learning. It generates a process of problem-solving and learning. It also can contain a grading system reflecting team concepts. Teamwork is essential in business and industry and can enhance the delivery of education at all levels. Students help each other in the process of learning and move away from a individualized type of education. It depends more on respect and responsibility to each in the team rather than making fun or downgrading under an individual type delivery system.

It is important that business and industry develop a comprehensive chart of skill sets needed to be employable within their occupations. Working with school councilors, administration officials and board members are essential to develop a line of communication. This helps educators direct students with a clear idea of what is needed in a profession they may choose in today’s economy. It also enhances the working relationship of all entities and designs a pattern of developing change in the delivery of education.

Education today has been under extreme pressure on what isn’t right in our education system. Imagine an industry or business in our community that wants to add forty jobs to keep up with demand. Internally their productivity is low and the production methods are archaic. Outside forces suggest enhancing the adding of jobs with tax abatements and grants to help. They don’t know the internal problems that exist, but work to help the industry out. In the long term it is the internal problems that need to be addressed from inside the business.

In education, outside forces are generating changes such as vouchers, proficiency testing, and teacher certification standards. These are “reforms” that don’t address the internal issues as the above example. It is more of a “cultural issue”. Teachers are teaching the same way they were taught as passed down from generation to generation. The true fix is one that rests internally.

Students need to be challenged and inspired. Business and Labor leaders can bring stories that inspired them in their education driving to their success. They need to establish what and how they can contribute to the educational process. Education needs to discuss how they would utilize and integrate change in how they deliver education with advice and suggestions from all entities. The relationship needs to be a true partnership. All changes are reliant and being pushed from the top down.

The partnerships have to be melted together through the teamwork between school councilors, education officials and education boards with business, industry and labor. It is essential for success.