Leadership in Education – Now What?

Leadership in Education - now what-

Leadership in Education is a big concern. The influence teachers have on our kids is immense and immediately powerful. I remember hearing one of my little sisters read her paper on the Iraq war circa 2004 at age 12 . . . it is safe to say she did not get those opinions from my parent’s house. Turns out her teacher had particularly strong feelings about the subject and decided to teach a current events lesson.

What is going on with education in the US? My family has been teaching for generations, elementary school through PhD. Most have been/are teachers, and a few have been administrators. Several have also been business owners . . . both teachers and business owners.

Is education now at a crossroads?

The internet has fundamentally changed both our access to information and our individual ability to provide information. If you wanted to share your thoughts on particle physics, 20 years ago you’d be lucky to find 3 people in your city who want to listen to you.

Now, you can find forums, blogs and social networking communities who want to hear what you have to say. Well, or at least they will put up with you.

This expands opportunities for learning across the broadest spectrum of subjects, yes?

We have the ability to have to increase interaction in education, but are we learning or just talking?

What is the value of education now available?

Looking at college courses you can now choose to attend college formally – as in, show up in person, or you can choose to attend class online. PhoenixOnline dwarfed all educational institutions last year and the year before and … and it made it a tidy profit. PhoenixOnline pays their teachers next to nothing so it isn’t attracting super stars though they do seem to require a PhD to teach. I calculated the pay for one class I was considering teaching and determined it to be $8-$12 and hour when you factor in the requirements on the teachers.

What’s the difference?

With Stanford making classes available online for free, is there any reason to use PhoenixOnline? I wouldn’t expect to get a higher quality product from Phoenix, but Phoenix has one thing Stanford does not. Degree granting accreditation.

So if you want your bachelor degree, you watch the PhoenixOnline version. The courses you watch at Stanford won’t earn you a degree from Stanford. You still have to show up and pay Stanford’s tuition if you want a degree. But you can get the degree much less expensively from PhoenixOnline.

Stanford can afford to offer the courses online because degree-seeking students have already paid to fill the classroom. The marginal cost to provide access to educationally motivated individuals is next to zero $.

We have two extremes. Inexpensive, essentially free education and very expensive education like MBA prep courses and top tier business schools.

From Seth Godin: The newly easy access to the education marketplace (you used to need a big campus and a spot in the guidance office) means that both the free and expensive options are going to be experimented with, because the number of people in the education business is going to explode (then implode)….

Just because something is free doesn’t meant there isn’t money to be made. Someone could charge, for example, for custom curricula, or focused tutoring, or for a certified (scarce) degree. When a million people are taking your course, you only need 1% to pay you to be happy indeed.

What he presents as options in the second paragraph is nothing new. Until you get to the 1% of people paying you. How do you feel about 1% of the people demonstrating a value for your labor?

If I work very hard for 5 years, I earn my PhD in esoteric topic X. If I struggle, stumble and fall gazillion times while launching a company, that may take me 4-5 years as well. Should I, should you, share the fruits of those labors for nothing with the vast majority of consumers? If you do, why would the 1% who might be willing to pay pay?

But, more importantly, from what you have noticed about human behavior, will any of those who do not pay value what I teach?

12 thoughts on “Leadership in Education – Now What?”

  1. Yeah, the part about particle physics.

    The Internet is surely come to be a very handy piece of technology.

    James Mason

  2. This happened to my daughter too! One time during a presidential election year, my daughter came home and told me about this strange comment her art teacher made about killing babies. I don’t remember if it was due to an abortion issue or the stem cell issue that involved embryos (wasn’t there something like that a couple of elections ago?). Anyway, I remember being shocked that a teacher would make that comment to children so young.

    Lisa McLellan

  3. The teaching profession has definately changed over the years. My only grip is the opinions of some teachers that get pushed on students when you don’t even believe in what they are teaching but it is a required class to get a degree.


  4. Great post. Regarding what people value, they value what has cost them something, where that “something” may be money, time, energy, or anything else of value to the payer. When people receive something for nothing, they treat the freebie nonchalantly.

  5. The value of an education at a top university is the contacts you will make, not necessarily the quality of the education. Unless you ar majoring in a hard science or engineering discipline or attending a top institution like Harvard, Yale or Stanford there is no reason to pay retail for college. For most people it is a waste of money.

    Steve Chambers
    Business to Business Sales Trainer

    • Yes. it’s the relationships. the contacts. and it IS significant. Smithie. And I have entre and access with that worldwide. which is super cool.

      We need to remember the point of education is to educate and inculcate the LOVE of learning and to educate that person about their gifts and talents. Not just to SCHOOL them. The system was (seriously) developed by the Cap. Barons of the 19th c to create workers who would be happy doing factory work. Now it is geared towards SCHOOLING people to be cubicle drones and dependent on Big Corps. THAT is a problem, as well.

      I know. I know. “I thought her focus was dating and relationships?” I bring in expertise from a variety of sources to help people do that. Indeed, children and how you want and see educating your children is a pre-marital topic couples are well advised to discuss and consider.

      Happy Dating and Relationships,

      April Braswell

      Single Baby Boomer Dating Success Expert

  6. I believe the public educational system is in the hands of self-severing charlatans who push a political agenda.

    The market has to take over if we are going to get out of the mess created.

  7. Hey cool, I had no idea Standford was offering courses online. Really interesting post.

    Whether or not someone pays for education they recieve is one way to indicate how they value what they learned. I was taught to honor my teachers by applying what I learnt, and if possible learn to a level higher than my teacher.

    I can name a few people who spend a fortune on seminars, etc and NEVER apply any of what they learn. Curious.

    Keri Eagan

  8. Interesting post.

    What IS the primary purpose of education? Is it to create a nation (world) of happy people? Is it to impart wisdom? Is it to build relationships? Is it to build a nanny state?!

  9. This could be a great debate. Rob has posted some excellent points, and I have basically the same feeling. Education seems to be more about the teachers than the students. I look at the steps we have made in hypnosis, and self hypnosis techniques, and it shocks me that these techniques are taught at the Elementary school level. It is time we evolve are teachings, and not only catch up by pass the rest of the world.

    Robert Martin

  10. If I work extememly hard to get where I want to be, I don’t see why I should share that with someone who is not willing to work hard as well.

    Jose Escalante

  11. a few comments
    (my wife quit teaching when we had kids)

    1. teaching seems to attract liberals and I wish they would keep their (wrong) opinions on world events to themselves
    2. now that we have all these standardized tests for the kids, I think it should be a law that the teachers take those same standardized tests at the beginning of the school year and unless they make at least an 85 on them, they should be BARRED from teaching the class. same for AP teachers, they need to make at least a 4 on the AP exam.
    3. people will always value what they pay for much more highly
    4. MIT just put their classes on line and you can watch video lectures (many are great), it is all free
    5. with an undergrad degree you are paying for the paper that PROVES you took and passed the courses, NOT the info taught.
    6. many teachers are awesome people and really care (sounds like you come from a line of them)

    just my opinions of course…
    Seize the Day,

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