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Business != School

There’s the big debate about whether schools could, or should, be run like a business. I’ve certainly worked for some businesses that would drive a school into the ground.

On the other hand, I’ve experienced some business models that would make a school flourish. A lot of the positive aspects i’ve experienced are embodied at Google.

Can you imagine:

  • A teacher having to interview with most of the people in the department they’ll be working in, rather than just an AP or two and maybe the department chair?
  • All trivial work removed so that teachers can focus all of their energy on being better teachers?
  • Teachers in constant contact with each other: in each others classrooms for observing or cooperation, constantly in communication with each other regarding their work. (I didn’t say most teachers would like it – but it would make them better).
  • Teachers encouraged, with time & money, to pursue innovative ideas.
  • Real data driven analysis, with teams of people designing metrics, collecting the data, and feeding back on the effectiveness of new practices.
  • Staff meetings that people want to go to because the information is relevant and useful because it comes from other people putting it into practice just like you.

{ 3 } Comments

  1. Penelope | April 1, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I long for staff meetings like that.

  2. Benjamin Baxter | April 1, 2008 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I doubt it’d be so idyllic —- Office Space, great movie that it is, comes to mind.

  3. Mr. K | April 1, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Office space is indeed an entertaining movie, and it perhaps describes the current educational climate better than any of those eduporn films.

    Efficiency experts, people being valued for their ability to “think outside the box” rather than actual results, focus on forms over substance, everthing in that movie is echoed in how I need to deal with being a teacher.

    Some of my real world corporate experiences were much better. Ever try to get teachers together for lunchtime planning meetings? Half of them will cry “union rules”. In the real world, on the other hand, the department secretary would book us a conference room, order us a decent lunch, and we’d spend two+ hours hashing out a problem until it was done. You never heard anyone whining about being treated professionally – we were all to busy trying to make our products better.

    There are plenty of companies that follow the Initech model. We don’t need to emulate those. But there are also plenty who break that mold, who not only provide an improved product, but who have a process that directly leads to that improved product.

    The problem is that the financial incentives for that kind of success aren’t available in education.