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Public Schools and Preparedness for the American Workplace

We’re not prepared by the American public school system for the competitive job market of the 21st century. I’ve been reading this book by Seth Godin (Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?), and Godin describes how the United States government standardized the school system to produce a population of workers able to follow instructions and work in a factory. The system was fine when factory jobs were the demand, but this isn’t the case anymore.

Public schools in the United States, even at the freshman and sophomore college level, require students to do no more than regurgitate exactly what the teacher/professor lectured on during class sessions. If the student is able to pay attention in class, follow instructions, and repeat back what they learned in lecture they’ll pass the class every time (maybe with a “C” average but they’ll still pass). In other words, the professor has given the student 70% of the answers.

Workplaces in the United States, worthy of a college graduate, require employees to find the answers. If the boss knew the answers he wouldn’t require an employee to do the work. The boss may give the employee 5% of the answers through guidance and a desired endstate for a project, but that’s all the employee gets. It is left to the employee to figure out the direction, conduct the research, prepare the format for the presentation, present the idea, and then execute. And a “C” average will not be good enough to maintain employment for long (let alone move up in a company).

The change from 70% of answers given to 5% of answers given is drastic. The change is overwhelming. We have not been prepared properly. –Carl Miller


One response to “Public Schools and Preparedness for the American Workplace

  1. cgparkin

    Such a telling post. Reading from Australia (in Education and its shifts) myself, I appreciate hearing how it is being approached elsewhere.


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