Education! Business! How to fix the system


I am an optimist by nature and I also believe that if you have a purpose, however big it is, you can achieve it. Especially if it’s a no-brainer and everybody wins; in other words, a systemic win (more of which later). I’ve got just such a thing to share with you.

I love that line in the film Shakespeare in Love where the owner of The Globe says something like

“It’ll happen, I don’t know how, but it will happen”.

We are at a crucial point in human history, for our global society and the planet we live on. There is an opportunity here to change the world for the betterment of everyone. Right now, that opportunity is passing us by and if we want something better we, that’s YOU and ME, EVERYBODY, can do something.

I can’t let it go without at least trying to raise awareness of the possibilities that have resulted from what has been and is, let’s remember, a situation that has caused heartache and tragedy for a lot of people across the globe.

I’m going to do three things in this article

  • Rant: Outline the situation as I see it now
  • Propose: Outline the opportunity to change
  • Invite: Suggest a way forward.

Some things you’ll agree with, others you might not. I’ll invite you to comment at the end.

The basis is that our education system is not fit for purpose and neither is the whole basis and ethos of our business systems. Once you’ve read my thoughts and suggestions, I’d like to read a very insightful, engaging and well written piece on the education system by Cora, a Year 10 student.

First, the reality (rant)

Let’s start by looking at where we are now, in our education system and in business.

In other words, where are we getting it wrong for young people and where we are getting it wrong for adults?

The education system was created in the industrial revolution for a world of class divides and factory workers. Fast forward to today and we have a factory education system where students enter the production line in Reception year and go through a series annual production lines until they are churned out having been taught lots of facts which they can look up on the internet and bugger all about how to thrive (note, thrive not survive) in the modern world. We tell them that success is all about exam results.

OK, I get it. That is perhaps a bit harsh, but not that far away from the truth. And listen here, I’m not having a go at teachers: most teachers I know are fabulous, enthusiastic and inspirational people.

The system doesn’t give them the freedom to relate their topics to the modern world. For example, how many history teachers do you know who make the links for their students that the skills they use in history are highly valued in some accountancy firms? Teachers, sadly, are judged on how well their students do in exams.

The most common complaints I hear from my children and their friends is that they aren’t taught about how money works, tax, pensions, mortgages, etc. They really would like to know. They also leave school with no idea how to manage their career. Again, I’m not having a go at careers work in schools: people who deliver this are hugely undervalued and given secondary status in the curriculum.

Our society and systems generally define success around job titles and money, rewarding rank over contribution. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a great example. Everyone has been out in the streets clapping our health service workers and recognising the huge and valuable contributions made by some of our currently least-recognised workforce: care-home workers, shop staff, refuse collectors, and so on.

Which leads us nicely into business.

Businesses run scared of people knowing how to manage their careers, thinking that people will leave if they do. The opposite is true. When people know how to work out what an ideal role is for them, they get into the right job, contribute more, take less time of sick and stay longer. Happy workers are good for organisations

For almost every business, the prime objective is to make money and the more the better, rather than to provide a service or product and at the same time nurture and grow their staff. Almost all these companies who say “people are our greatest asset” are talking bullshit. Just ask their staff.

Rant over.

What’s the opportunity, and are politicians and the super-rich actually brave enough?

In the last three months, the human race has shown that when a crisis hits, we can take decisive action to make the necessary changes. It has happened in countries across the world. It will be easy to look back and criticise how the pandemic was handled, and you can be sure that our press will be doing that, but let’s just accept for the moment that everyone did the best they could with the information they had available at the time.

The government and businesses are clamouring to get us “back to normal” or into “the new normal”. But their version of that is to get as close to what it was before. As I write, they are talking about the education system focusing on core skills and STEM at the expense of the arts and humanities. Businesses are talking laying off people, some in their thousands. They will say “that’s business” and that they can’t afford it. The government will say that it’s vital for the education system to focus on those areas.

The problem here is that politicians, generally, are only interested in their own ego and party political points – I challenge any politician reading this to dispute that and provide evidence that it’s not true. I’m sure you start out with great ideals but really, look at yourself!

The super-rich and, actually, even the very rich or rich, haven’t got the balls to live on less, although we have the resources for everyone to have a decent life free of struggling to survive. Maybe we all need to be brave enough to make changes.

A way forward. So, what’s the answer?

I go back to that quote: “It will happen. I don’t know how but it will happen”.

In other words, I’ll give you a possible outcome, and I’m interested in your views on it. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but I believe that if enough people have the same intent and act, we can make it happen without bloodshed and war.

The solution:

  • An education system which teaches young people the skills that they really need to know to navigate an ever-changing world. In particular, teaching them how to manage their career (including getting a job and running a business), and working life when new jobs are being invented all the time and they may need to create several streams of income.
  • Businesses not focussing on maximum profit, but on providing a great service/product, and nurturing and developing staff.
  • Businesses helping staff to learn to manage their career and developing them with the knowledge that at some point they are likely to move on and that this is not a negative thing for the business.
  • Individuals looking for the good in others, looking to understand and tolerate.
  • Individually and organisationally, at all levels, we try to act for a systemic win. In other words to take actions that affect us, those around us, and the wider community positively, with the intention of making the world better for everyone.

Some ideas:

What if we went to a 3 or 4 day working week, employing more people to do the work?

I know businesses will say it’s not possible, but it is if we all make adjustments. You might earn a little less, but those earning so little now will earn enough for a decent lifestyle. It does require those with lots of money to be brave enough to let some go.

But imagine a society where everyone has enough; where people are more content; where across the globe people have enough to thrive, and where we take care of our planet.

My mission is to create a world where everyone has the skills and confidence to define and create success for themselves. Now that would be a truly world-class education system, business system, and society.

Maybe you think that what I have written is fanciful. Maybe you agree. Are you willing to say what your views are?

  1. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
  2. What would you do to create that “systemic win” world I mentioned above?

At the top of this piece I referred you to an article I think you will enjoy and benefit from reading: Click here to read on

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