Return for a minute with me to the late 60’s. I know if you remember the period you were supposedly not part of the time period.But it was a time when the way we taught our next generation was different then today. I cam out of college in this era and taught for six years. I still correspond with one of my first students, 41 years later. In a recent chat session she made the comment that I was one of the first teachers who made her think about the reasons behind what we do and why.
Russ Moen of Express Personnel makes the argument that when the nature of the business world changed from one based on what we made to what we imagine, the nature of the employee changed from one of being an expense item to being a non-owned corporate asset the central part to success in business was dependent on collaboration and innovation.
I look at the push behind such things as NCLB and realize that today’s educators while for the most part do a good job, they fail to teach the skills to enable our next generation of workers to be critical thinkers in the workplace. You can’t instill innovation in an individual when you are “teaching” them to prepare for the state accountability exam. Instead we are teaching them to stay within very small parallel views. Where would we end up with a HP or an Apple or even Ford Motor if we told them that they can’t operate from the garage as they developed their concept because it did not meet the testing criteria.
I was a bear of a teacher and I readily admit it. I took every opportunity to challenge my students to reach for that next higher level in what they did. We need to do the same with today’s workers who come into the workplace by being unable to think beyond what is in front of them. We have not prepared our workplace to view the world from both a macro perspective and at the same time a micro perspective. When was the last time you had an employee come to you and suggest that there maybe a better way to complete a process? In many cases the reason is that they were never taught to think for themselves.
Dr. Richard Florida talks in his books about the role of the Creative Class in the workplace. He suggests that this country’s standing in the world is going to be diminished because those who dream instead of producing end results believe they can find a greener pasture elsewhere. It is time we understand the new paradigm and change our educational system to meet the needs of your workplace not whether they performed well on some standardized test dictated by an accountability fanatic sitting in some office away from the workplace/classroom.
Innovation is the way to our recovery. Innovation is the way to the future of the workplace. Innovation is the way to produce contributing members of society. If we don’t recognize how to challenge the assumptions made by organizations how do we expect to be innovators in the years to come. I would expect that the next generation will not be as productive as past ones due to the inability to look at problems with a critical mind.