Posted by: crudbasher | June 6, 2011

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

(cc) niznoz

“All in all we’re just another brick in the wall” – Pink Floyd

The article I have linked to below talks about how industry is taking more of an interest in how education is working because they are getting ready to lose lots of baby boomers. They are complaining that scores in Math and English are not going up. The implication is, there will be a shortage of workers with the needed skills for manufacturing. Well that may in fact be true, however a little stat in the article caught my eye.

An estimated 2.7 million U.S. manufacturing employees, for example, nearly a quarter of the total, are 55 or older.

Doing the math shows about 11 million manufacturing workers. That is out of a total of about 145 million workers. And only a quarter of those manufacturing workers need to be replaced soon. So, should we change the whole education system to meet that need? Of course not but that does lead to another interesting thought.

It seems apparent to me that the types of jobs will become more diverse as the century goes on. Not only that, but new jobs types will be created all the time as new technologies evolve. Therefore, it would seem that an educational system that permits the maximum diversity in output would be the desired one. By the way, this system is the opposite of a standardized, one size fits all, top down system. (which is what we are moving towards)

I think the reason there is so much wailing and knashing of teeth in the education reform community is people are trying to get their own single solution imposed on everyone else. Perhaps the real solution is all of the above? Let’s do everything. Some kids need lots of structure and want to be factory workers. They need the system we have now. But how about apprenticeships, employer training, community colleges, home schooling, unschooling, and charter schools? The more choices you have, the more children you will be able to reach.

There is one way I think to make this happen: vouchers. Give every family a voucher and let them choose the best path for their child. Would that destroy the current system? Not completely but it would drastically resize it in the same way as Fed Ex and UPS didn’t destroy the US Postal system. Place the control with the family and students and see what happens.

Any thoughts? Am I on to something here?

  • article about industry putting pressure of schools to teach skills

    tags: education industry

    • Big U.S. employers, worried about replacing retiring baby boomers, are wading deeper into education and growing bolder about telling educators how to run their business.
    • Several initiatives have focused on manufacturing and engineering, fields where technical know-how and math and science skills are needed and where companies worry about recruiting new talent.
    • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report in May that said higher education had failed to “tap the potential of digital technology” in ways that would “transform learning, dramatically lower costs or improve overall institutional productivity.”
    • “We need to move aggressively to competency-based education” based on mastery of skills at the student’s own pace, rather than on an accumulation of credit hours, said Emily DeRocco, president of the Manufacturing Institute, a research arm of the group.
    • Much of the emphasis is on community colleges and vocational schools because they are affordable and can quickly turn out job candidates. Employers increasingly are asking community colleges to create custom training programs for specific jobs.
    • Businesses that get deeply involved in public education sometimes encounter frustrations. The Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, composed of people from industry, unions and city government, four years ago set up a school called Austin Polytechnical Academy in a poor neighborhood on the city’s West Side.
    • The sponsors have complained about low test scores and breakdowns in communication with Chicago Public Schools, which manages Austin Polytech.
    • But cooperation is improving, he said, and some of the students are enhancing their career prospects by earning credentials from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. […] said for some time that the purpose of school is to create standardized factory workers. The current economic times are an indication that the economy is changing. Many people who have […]

  2. […] I have written about this previously. See One Size Doesn’t Fit All […]

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