Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Education" a sob story

I really liked secondary school, it was great, and I think like most people who were in my class I look back now and remember how great it really was. However it still strikes me that the way we are educated during those years is for the most part FIERCLY ineffective and really not very practical in many ways. The main problem with how things are taught is there is no engagement from the class, theory remains theory and that is that.
To a large extent this remains true throughout college, I am supposedly in the best undergraduate business degree that can be obtained in this country, but I can assure you the most important lessons I have learnt about business, the workplace and myself have not been through rigid course curricula.

The other day I walked past my school and remembered something from about 6 years ago, which at the time I found kind of funny, but looking back now I feel kind of angry about. There was a boy in my class that was a trouble child, and prided himself on being so, he didn’t attend all the classes, he didn’t do his homework and wielded the power to make lecturers leave the classroom on the verge of tears (which was actually quite impressive).

One day this guy came into school with a sports bag that was weighed down with stuff inside it, what was it… sweets and coca cola and other things that teenagers like. It was basically a shop out of a bag. He charged slightly above the prices in the shops, but people were willing to pay it because they wanted it more than the overpriced stuff our school tried to pedal to us. This went on for weeks, people were happy, he was certainly happy, but this infiltration of non-school food had been noticed and soon he was hauled up in front of the headmaster, his parents notified and as far as I know his merchandise (and maybe money was also taken). School it seemed was no place for business.

A year later and the boy wasn’t in school anymore, for a number of other reasons the school had decided that he was not the sort of boy welcome in our school… and he was gone.

As I say, at the time this all seemed quite funny that the guy had gone and annoyed the teachers again, but when I thought about it now, it dawned on me that when they chastised him for what had been effectively a very intelligent business idea, they changed his life from then on. The business plan had been near perfect, he had identified a gap in the market and evaluated there was demand, knew what his target market wanted, how much they would be willing to pay, where he could sell it but more than that he took a risk. Undoubtedly the headmaster viewed this pursuit as “cheeky” and against school policy but these are skills that are not present in most people who go out and start their own businesses and skills that certainly don’t come natural to many 13 year olds.

This has really been a long winded way of saying that we need to look at how we “teach” people, and how we reward certain behaviours relative to others. The message we send is “sit, read, repeat” = good, in fact GRRREAT, “get up and go” = OHHH so your one of those are you. I hope that the person in question ends up running his own business because I know he can, but he won’t owe any of this success to his educational institution that for sure.


yeboah21 said...

Go on Cavo! but ed, run his own business? are you serious!

Anonymous said...

You are looking at this with rose tinted glasses. He sold Egyptian Coke and Penguin Bars for a day or so to a bunch of lads in school. I don't think it would of given him the credence to continue with this "Business start up," if the school had continued his pursuit to Challenge Hosford in the junk food stakes.

David said...

Cavo learned an important that lesson that day... don't hustle on Hosfords turf!