As I was preparing a talk about how to improve the education systems across the world, I started to build an analogy with business. The more I did this the more I realised just how broken the system was and what a depressing impact we are having on the young people of today.
Stage one of any business is to recognise the needs of your customers. We could see this as the world young people enter when they leave the factory. However, as the world changes at a quicker and quicker pace it has become impossible to predict an economic crisis one year ahead, let alone a world in fifteen years time. And yet governments the world over have set up education factories that have clairvoyant capabilities.
What is clear is that the education factory should be fostering the characteristics necessary to cope with a rapidly changing world, but instead they fall back on the good old tried and tested academic model that put them in these positions of power. What they don't realise is that not everyone wants to run an education factory or even a government.
It is not as if they would have a problem delivering on the real need as the raw materials that they start the process with is naturally into communicating, exploring, learning from trying and sometimes failing and totally without preconceived ideas. But, although that raw material would be great if the factory was giving the customer what it needed, it is a real hinderance to the conveyor belt mentality of the fact-based learning system.
And so, with a factory that attempts to produce lots of mini-wikopedias, it immediately applies quality control mechanisms. These are more commonly called tests or examinations. Some factories are now entrepreneurial characteristic removal testing prior to the raw material entering the factory.
Once into the factory it is assumed that there is a norm for passing along the conveyor belt and that learning takes place at a uniform rate for all of these individuals. So quality testing will take place along the line and increasing numbers will be rejected at each stage. Any real factory that took quality raw material and ruined so much of it in the production process would be shut down very quickly.
So, over time we have honed an education factory that has no idea what is needed at the far end of the process, a factory that is beginning to label some of the raw materials as failures before they ever get to the production line and which continues to create failures throughout the process.
Today, the owners of the factories are even resorting to cheating in order to make their production figures look better. Given that their measure of a quality output is not that the person is useful to society, but that they have a degree, they massage the figures for degrees. Suddenly technical colleges that used to teach useful things to the 'later stage failures' have been rebranded universities. As a consequence the world is overrun with degrees in media studies, surfboarding, cake making and circus skills.
Some of this sounds almost amusing were it not damaging the young people of today. How many more young people have to suffer and be branded failures because they have the audacity to be unique human beings before someone fires the CEOs and management teams of all of these education factories?