Happy Holidays from ISA


Ian Symmonds & Associates will be closed from December 23, 2011 through January 2, 2012 in celebration of the Christmas, New Year's, and overall holiday season. Staff members will be checking our voicemail, email, and client portal feeds only periodically during that time.  
 
We wish the very best of the holiday season to you and yours, and look forward to launching an exciting, busy, and hopeful New Year!  Happy Holidays!

A Relevant Way to Thank Donors


Tired of thanking major and capital donors with the usual cocktail party, plaque-on-the-wall, name-on-the building way?  Wish you could do more to bring relevant attention to the legacy of their gift?  While we realize it is an exception rather than the rule, check out this video from Bowling Green State University.  
 
The University just opened the Stroh Center, a new basketball and fitness facility this fall to donor fanfare.  Rather than executing the typical stewardship campaign, the actual donors are the featured in this viral masterpiece.  With some creative juice and proper humor, Bowling Green State not only accomplishes their goal of thanking the donors, but also gets national promotional exposure for a job well done.
 
Just when I thought we had seen the best, I felt compelled to post this video after I saw it this week when shared by Byron Hulsey at Randolph School.  If you did not catch our earlier post on this topic, check out the entry on The New Normal in Promo Videos from the sidebar to the left.

I Just Want Her to be Happy!

Lately we have been completing a lot of focus groups and research interviews with parents of priviate school and college students.  As themes emerge, I like to share them.  And, today, these themes have me thinking of a white paper that we worte about a year ago - "I Just Want Her to be Happy".

Our firm has spent countless hours conducting interviews and focus groups with prep school and college bound parents over the past several years. We have poured over the responses in an effort to decode the decision process for parents as they embark on such a significant financial and personal commitment. We have learned a lot about this process and what matters most to parents from a generalist perspective, as we have outlined in our white paper and webinar "Why Parents Choose Independent Schools". And, for clients with which we have specific research relationships, we have learned so much institutional-specific, market-specific, or region-specific data.

But, one finding lately seems to trump all the others in my mind.  While it puzzles me on one hand, it perhaps seems very logical on the other.  No matter how you slice it, parents just want their kids to be happy.

Countless interview and focus group participants offer, when really pushed on the question of why they made the school or college choice they did, they respond with a desire to please their children and make them happy. Sure, they want a rigorous program, personal attention, and excellent placement - but not at the expense of their child's happiness, which trumps all other outcomes.  

And, yet there is one more finding that I see as equally as interesting.  While parents just want their kids to be happy, they really seem increasingly involved in their children's lives.  This generation of parents, often called the "helicopter parents", have caused colleges across the nation to give birth to new services and programs for parents, such as "Parent Orientation" programs or "Office of Parent Relations".  There is no question that the independent school or college parent today is highly involved in their children's lives.

Put these two qualitative research themes together and you have an interesting sociological stew bubbling.  On the one hand, parents just want their kids to be happy, but on the other hand, they just want to be involved in their lives.  This is either a bewildering or obvious finding depending upon how you examine it, but nonetheless, it still puzzles me.

Remember the old Peace Corp campaign from the 1970's?  They were selling "The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love".  Try selling challenge or hardship today to these students and their parents.  I'm not sure that will work.  So, the question is, do parents really just want their kids to be happy, and just want to stay involved?  I am sure there are two sides of this coin.

On the one hand, I personally understand the need to raise happy children. As a parent, I want my kid's life to better than mine - isn't that the American Dream? I want them to find happiness, peace, and purpose in their life choices. I want them to find joy in learning and discovery. I want them to view the future with hope and optimism. And, somehow I have equated all of those intangible outcomes of an education as a direct result of happiness.

Here's where I am puzzled. Some of the aspects of a rigorous education do not necessarily promote happiness. Isn't some level of pain, hardship, discipline, and toil key ingredients to the developmental sequence of one's life? I have to admit, I am growing suspicious that parents might be erring on the side of ease of parenting and playing a bit of role reversal.

There are many people that I have chatted with regarding this issue. Some say it is a generational issue. They point to the fact that students at independent schools seem to be making the choice of schools at earlier ages every decade as evidence. And, others take the contrarian view, suggesting that this issue is simple as parents wanting their kids to know life's blessings without too much hardship.

I believe the natural tension in this issue really boils up at the faculty level.  Have you ever seen a parent who was completely hands off on the admission or school selection process, but then becomes overly involved in a perceived battle of unfair treatment by a faculty member or school representative?  In many instances, the parent becomes actively engaged in making sure that their child has not been the recipient of too much challenge or unbalanced treatment from a school.  I have seen this issue countless times and am never sure exactly what to make of it.

What do you think? Are parents abdicating their role to their children, aiming to please rather than make the hard choices of a parent, yet still living vicariously through their lives?  Or, is this simply an age-old need of a parent wanting the best path for their child without too much pain along the way?

Holy Cow 2011

Can a holiday party with friends in Portland change the lives of people around the world?  

This one can.

We are having fun again this year with our annual funraising to support the goals of Heifer International.  As a small but mighty event sponsored each year by ISA in Portland, our Annual Holy Cow party concept is simple:  we supply the food, drink, fun, and friends, while others simply come and make a donation of any amount to buy a cow through Heifer International. Together, we celebrate the Christmas, the holidays, and provide new hope to those in need.

Since 2005, our Holy Cow fun is making a difference. We have purchased eight cows, two goats, shared in the purchase of a clean water well, and helped supply food for the local Portland food bank. And, along the way, we think we have inspired a few people and clients in other cities and markets to develop their own Holy Cow program.  

This year, we will host our annual party on Saturday, December 17th at the Symmonds' Home in Portland.  Going to be in the Northwest that weekend?  Join us and be inspired.  Or, consider developing your own Holy Cow in your city or area.


Launching ISA Virtual


We are excited to launch ISA Virtual, our online strategy consulting program. Designed to provide a rich user-experience in a convenient and flexible way, ISA Virtual provides participants a topical approach to addressing industry-challenging strategy issues.  Each session is personally hosted and faciliated by Ian Symmonds.  

ISA Virtual is only for top level college and school administrators (college presidents, vice presidents, heads of school, directors, and executive team leaders) and select board members who wish to advance their knowledge of strategy and apply it to their unique situation.  Like any classroom, students benefit not only from the expert knowledge and experience of the faculty, but also from the interaction with other students.  

Hallmarks of ISA Virtual include:

Topical Content. 
We focus on the key issues facing our industry and offer relevant solutions based upon our unmatched experience.

Flexible Professional Development.  
Learn how to tackle the most challenging industry issues without leaving campus to attend conferences.

Expert Approach.
  Learn from an industry expert and thought leader who has served over 155 independent schools and colleges in every region and nearly every state in the country.

Ease of Use.
  We use WebEx and GoToMeeting, both industy-leading platforms, that are recognized for ease of use on a variety of platforms, including Mac, PC, and app phones.  Each session is recorded and participants are provided the content after each session, both PDF files and the recorded session.  


Participants may choose to register and attend specific classes only, or register for the entire eight class semester. Each class is 2.5 hours in length and starts promptly at 10 AM Pacific/1 PM EST.  Individual classes are $199 per session, or participants may register for the entire semester for $1250, a savings of over $350.  There is limited enrollment in classes and we reserve the right to require a mimimum number of students for each session. 

Follow this link to register for specific programs.

 

Innovation Vs. Integration


With all the talk surrounding innovation in modern culture, I think we are missing an important outcome that innovation nearly always breeds: integration. Rapid advancements in product or program development have historically given way to the integration of that innovation into mainstram program offerings. We see it all the time in other industries, and now I believe we are seeing it in education.

Remember when you had your first record player or turntable? And, then you acquired a cassette tape player. Soon, we realized these advances would be best if served up together, so we created a stereo system, pulled together by an amplifier that served as a hub that several other components plugged into. This was followed by the integration of the cd player, then the massive leap into video with the addition of the TV. And, now we are seeing the computer and Internet jumping into this family entertainment system. Innovation drives integration.

There are many examples of this theory in various industries. But, what does it mean for education? Colleges and universities know that, while once a true Blue Ocean Strategy, online learning and evening and weekend programs are now simply part of the integration lexicon of offerings. Once innovations in their own right, they could not stand alone.

Innovation is great, but it always breeds perhaps a more important component - integration. What do you think this means for your school, college, or university?

Introducing Village of Promise


This past year we completed a strategic plan and business outlook for Village of Promise, a Huntsville, Alabama-based non-profit designed to break the cycle of poverty birth to college.  It is an amazing program based upon the pioneering work of Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children's Zone.  We were fortunate to have been involved on the ground floor of this effort, completing research on the status of both education and poverty in the city of Huntsville among key opinion leaders.  Working with a steering committee, we applied the research and findings, localizing areas of the city in which the strategic plan would focus.  

This program works.  A quick review of Canada's work in Harlem demonstrates that the cycle of poverty can be broken.  The key is developing wrap around services in the various facets of young people's lives - from healthcare, education, and other community services - that meet the needs of students in the programs.  As long as students remain in the service pipeline, they have an incredible retention and success rate.  Most importantly, they promise that every student who remains in the program will graduate from college, demonstrating that the cycle of poverty can and is being broken through this program.

Hats off to Bobby Bradley and Gloria Batts, the chief architects of this program.  We invite you to learn more about their program at their website, or check them out on Facebook.

The New Normal in Video Promos


Lately I have been noticing a steady stream of school and college produced videos that are edgy and pushing the promotional envelope of traditional marketing.  In some cases, they are building a brand vision, like the Return of the Quack video from The University of Oregon.  In others, they are trying to build promotional attention, such as this Katy Perry "Fireworks" lip dub from Assumption High School in Louisville, Kentucky.  And, in other cases, they are using this tool as a way to challenge traditional stereotypes of their school, such as the video above from Phillips Academy, affectionately known in America as Andover.
 
There is no question that this is the new normal in promotional programs.  They are viral, student-centered, and appeal to the young generation.  Taking advantage of social media and the incessant sharing of digital content that we all tend to participate, these new videos are entertaining and tend to grab attention in ways that traditional mediums, such as print viewbooks (boring!) and even formal school videos, just cannot garner.
 
It seems as if everyone is getting into the act.   Who would have ever guessed that Phillips Academy in Andover would have ever showcased not only their students, but their faculty, in a new school rap video?  I think we have moved into a new normal in video promos.

When Planning Turns Political


We throw around the words "strategic planning" everyday.  But, what does it mean?  Is the focus on "strategic" or on "planning"?  Or, is it both?  What are the challenges with running a good strategic planning process?  I have been reflecting on these and other similar questions much lately.
 
When I think of strategic planning, I am actually more interested in the "strategic" side of the exercise - the strategy.  Without a cogent strategy, most tuition-driven schools and colleges and most donor-centric non-profits, really struggle.  But, too often, I believe organizations become too narrowly focused on the "planning" portion of the process - the ability to try to control the outcome of the future with tactical action plans.  That effort often takes them into the weeds and they become overly concerned with what will happen with existing programs.  And, that potential issue turns the process into a political one.
 
Planning is essentially an exercise in control.  Similar to creating a driving route to get from Point A to Point B in the car, a plan is designed to move an organization in a linear way from one place to another.  Action steps define the turns along the way, but isn't the path the more important issue?  What if external factors change, like our weather changes along our driving route?  What will our strategy have to say about how we react?

Most organizations function at least three - if not four - levels.  They area all important, but some are higher marks of maturity.  They include:
  1. Operational - We must turns the lights on the morning, unlock the doors, and answer the phone.
  2. Tactical - We must know "how" we are going to do certain things, such as solve a scheduling dilemma or create a better information system.
  3. Strategic - We need to know "what" we are really trying to accomplish and "where" we are going strategically.
  4. Visioning - What does success look like and how do we leverage our collective strengths to find the intersection between mission and market opportunity?

A sound strategic planning process should only focus on points three and four.  Conversations that lead to points one and two nearly always move toward the political ramifications of change on a school or college environment.  And, we know "change" and "education" often are not found in the same sentence.  As you look at your strategic planning process, we encourage you to really consider if it is focusing on the high level issues, or getting down in the weeds.

Rethinking Strategy (Return of the Quack)


It is no secret that I love my Oregon Ducks.  Our family is not from Oregon, and when I left the university setting to start a firm in 2004, we realized that our family needed a "home team".  For over 15 years, we simply cheered for who I happened to serve at the time.  So, we adopted the Ducks - and it turns out that I have learned alot from them.
 
Most people know that Nike, and specifically Phil Knight, have played an extraordinary role in shaping the University of Oregon athletic program.  But, what they don't know is how their strategy has been different than anyone else in college athletics.  The University of Oregon athletic program - with Nike head Phil Knight guiding the way - successfully predicted that "marketing attention deficit" - getting people's attention - would be the hardest trick in the new information age.  So, Phil Knight and Oregon challenged the predominant thinking about athletics:  "if you win, they will come, and you will get attention."  Instead, he and his cronies realized that attention was really the winning indredient.  In fact, Nike and Oregon set in place a different strategy:  "if you get attention, people will watch and athletes will come, and you will win."  That is why we see the eye-popping uniforms and the outrageous ad campaigns in urban centers.  All from a university that played host to the fiming of Animal House in a city of 100,000 people and a state of 3.5 million people.  

I share this concept because I believe it has great utility for educators, marketers, and planners alike.  Is it possible to shift and rethink strategy, challenging the prevailing concepts and ideas, and do something really different?  Sure it is.  Oregon is simply a good case study.

I am guessing that Nike had a little to do with the video above that went viral last year.  Led by student rap group Supwichugirl, this is a great example of viral marketing.
 
Go Ducks! 

Ten Trends Launching at SAIS & PNAIS


If you are heading to SAIS or PNAIS annual conferences, you'll get a sneak preview of our launch of the full Ten Trends series.  I will be speaking one week from today at the Southern Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference in Atlanta, followed by a keynote at the PNAIS Leadership Conference in Seattle in November.  After those sessions, our white paper on Ten Trends will be available for download on our site.  

In October and November, ISA will launch the completion of our Ten Trends series as I speak at several regional and national conferences.  The Ten Trends series was birthed three years ago when I witnessed several inflection points in our culture that I believed would naturally impact the work of non-profits, and specificially education.  Over the next two months, I am going to use this space to drive that conversation. 

How will educational institutions position themselves in the future?  What value will they add to the consumer and at what price?  I think this is the largest question facing high priced independent schools and colleges in the future.  I don't know the answers, but I think we are asking the right questions here.   

Want a quick preview of our conference sessions or the white paper?  Watch the video from SAISTalks above or learn more at www.sais.org or www.pnais.org. 

Where Are We Going?


In October and November, ISA will launch the completion of our Ten Trends series as I speak at several regional and national conferences.  The Ten Trends series was birthed three years ago when I witnessed several inflection points in our culture that I believed would naturally impact the work of non-profits, and specificially education.  Over the next two months, I am going to use this space to drive that conversation.
 
Big question here:  where are we going educationally in America?  We are experiencing industry shifts so rapidly but I am unsure if anyone is really paying attention.  Education is a mature industry - so major shifts are hard to detect and to manage.  But, if one reads the tea leaves, they will quickly come to the conclusion that we are heading into unchartered waters.
 
So, I am enjoying one of my cross country flights to a client - today from Boston to Seattle - and taking the time to read the Delta inflight magazine.  Interestingly, the main focus of this months magazine is about online learning and the different options available to consumers today.  Most of the case studies feature graduate students in their mid 30's or 40's going back to acquire the degree that they wanted, needed, or aspired to and blended learning offered them the opportunity that they never had before.  Of course, these articles are paid for promotional efforts, but I am nevertheless surprised by the distance we have traveled in just a short decade in the blended learning environment.
 
Where are we going in terms of educational delivery?  I don't purport to have the answers, but I do think that there are some important questions we need to ask - no, we must ask.  Going back just a decade, we have seen some major shifts in the delivery of education.  When MIT put all content for the MIT open courseware program online, that was a game changer.  Up until that point, the "Academy" owned information and knowledge.  No longer is that true - a student no longer needs to go to school to acquire information and knowledge - it is now ubitquitious.  
 
Google has an audicious vision - "to organize all the world's information and do no harm in the process".  It turns out that they are pretty good at this.  Need an answer to a question on a homework worksheet?  Just Google it and you will likely spare yourself the need to study the textbook.  And, speaking of textbooks, will they become a thing of the past in very short order?  I am guessing that they will go by the wayside quickly, just like newspaper and YellowPages publishing and phonebooths in the airport.
 
How will educational institutions position themselves in the future?  What value will they add to the consumer and at what price?  I think this is the largest question facing high priced independent schools and colleges in the future.  I don't know the answers, but I think we are asking the right questions here.  
 
Read on and feel free to comment.  We'll continue on this topic throughout the months of October and November.  
 
PS - This entry was written at 30,000 feet on Delta wi-fi - who would have thought this possible even five years ago? 

Small + Complex = Bad Combination


Travel to a few independent colleges or schools, schedule a visit with the President's cabinet, and query them as to what their biggest challenges are each day.  I suspect that you will find one of the core issues facing nearly all of them is how to integrate data - which is currently living in silos - in an effective way to make good institutitional decisions.  If I had to predict how the conversation would go, they would complain that too much information exists without much integration and data mining.  And, to make it worse, they would most likely complain that most people in the organization have little knowledge about what is happening in other parts of the campus.  

Most colleges and schools which with we work are far too small to be this complex.  Most consumers expect that a large organization will be hard to navigate and rarely client-centered.  But, they tend to believe that small organizations - like a small liberal arts college or an independent school of fewer than 1000 students - will be easy to navigate and very client-centered.  In other words, large often means complex and small often means client-centered and intuitive.  From a marketing and strategy perspective, small and complex is a deadly combination.

As we move into a world where the consumer trend is back to the local, smaller retailers as a backlash against the impersonal, big-box companies, this is an important issue.  How is your school or college working toward making your organization client-centered and easy with which to work?  How is your information technology organized and is it integrated?  And, how many information silos exist with your organization?  Answering these questions may be one of the more important strategic questions for small, tuition-driven organizations in the future.

Why Randolph School?


Randolph School in Hunstville, Alabama has been a long-time client of ISA.  We have collaborate with the school by creating a strategic marketing plan, advancement campaign program, and a strategic plan during the past three years.  

This is one independent school that is flourishing - excellent leadership, enrollment growth, a stronger student profile, and enhanced academic, athletic, and arts programs.  Couple all of this with excellent marketing communications and branding, Randolph is an example of all of what is good about America's independent schools.  

Don't take our word for it, though.  Check out their cool Strategic Plan, their Back to School video above, or visit their new website launched last month.

Profile of a Parish Student

ISA just completed a strategic visioning and planning process for Parish Episcopal School in Dallas.  After 18 months of research, planning, and prioritizing, an incredible vision for the future emerged.  Led by head of school Dave Monaco, Parish took the typical metrics of a successful independent school graduate and, instead, looked beyond merely test scores and grade point averages.  

The result?  A focus on the right nexus of skills for the future.  They call it the Parish Profile, and it starts from the point of admission and cotinues with a digital portfolio that is cumulative through their years as a student.  Accompanying this profile are new strategic initiatives with an Academy of Global Studies and a Leadership Institute.  

Check out the Remarkable Realities series on YouTube - a result of hard work, innovative thinking, and inspirational leadership.

Less is More (More or Less)

 

Nearing the end of his reign at Apple's CEO, I once heard Steve Jobs asked to reveal his secret to success.  He replied that he had the discipline and focus to give up a thousand potential ideas for one really good one.  This laser-like focus and his ability to understand what the really best ideas were clearly has made Apple the most profitable company in the world right now.  

And...they only have about six products!

As we work with colleges and schools in strategic planning, we often notice that most organizations really struggle with saying "no" to certain activities.  They almost inherantly believe that all things that they are currently doing are really important.  They confuse activity with meaning, assuming that if they do less of something that is an existing activity it will make them less effective.  And, we all know that is not the case.

Doing less things allows organizations to focus on what really matters - the really important activity that moves an organization forward.  Just like spring cleaning in a house or garage removes the clutter and gives a family more space to live, doing less for organizations gives them the important bandwidth to focus on the essential strategic items.  I actually believe schools and colleges could do an entire strategic planning process on "elimination theory" - simply subtract the non-essential items to become more effective.

Try it on for size - you might just find that less is more and it has given your organization the important bandwidth to do the important things.

Twitter as a Reconnaissance Tool

It's a fact:  Twitter has become mainstream, joining Facebook and YouTube as primary social media portals for sharing information.  And, while we know that each social media platform has unique benefits and attributes, I have to admit that I find Twitter is one of the best reconnaissance tools I have ever enjoyed.  Let me explain.

While the world is busy pushing out information by the boat load, I have found Twitter to be an excellent way to consume the essential headlines from various industries.  Due to the brevity of the tweet (by design), I can at least get a quick read on what is happening across various industries in just a short minute or less.  Our Twitter account at ISA (@symmonds) follows just over 1000 organizations and people.  And, to be honest, we have been very strategic about who we choose to follow.  The composition of this list is primarily independent colleges, schools, and thought leaders from the education industry.  And, about four times a day, I scroll through the posts from all of these organizations to get a quick read on the industry.  It is an excellent way to read the tea leaves of an industry or culture in a short amount of time.  

What about the actual act of tweeting?  Sure, we do it, but we try to achieve some balance with our tweets.  While the rest of the world is preoccupied getting followers, we are a bit more interested in achieving the right composition of those we follow.  And, when we do post something, we don't just post anything.  We try to make it insightful and to the point.  Most of our tweets are links to our blog entries or a quick activity update on a project that we are working on, or perhaps a quick pic or vid from a campus visit to a client.  Short, to the point, and perhaps only once or twice per day.

Try using Twitter as a recon tool.  It is an exceptional way to get your head around the mass of information from an industry.  And, while it may not give you the depth of the information you seek, at least it helps you decide what to read.

Answering the Question of "Why?


Why does your college, university, school, or non-profit "do what it does"?  I'm not talking about what your organization does, or even how it does it, but why?  As it turns out, the question of "why" is the most important question for strategy.  The answer to this question drives every other decision an organization makes.  So, why then, do few organizations ever address it?  

As a strategist, I continue to be mesmerized of the simplicity outlined in this TEDTalks video above.  Simon Sinek makes a compelling case for the question of "why" in the first four minutes.  Take a moment to check it out - at least the first several minutes.  You'll be glad you did.

A Different Take on the Mindset List

Many of us are fascinated by the annual Beloit College Mindset List - a quick summary of facts about the incoming first year college student class each year.  Most of us in the education industry have some level of positive anticipation for the list each year, as it keeps us grounded and is a somewhat comical reminder of the audience with which we are advising, communicating, and teaching.  However, there are two additional observations that I have on the list that I wanted to share, just for heuristic purposes.

Thumbs Up:  All educational institutions should take note of the creativity that Beloit College has used in developing and delivering this list.  It is not only a great marketing effort that gets national notice each fall (right when high school seniors are looking at colleges), but it also positions the College as uniquely "in touch" with their audiences via generational research.  Kudos to Beloit for the creativity and imagination.  (My only concern here is that the actual delivery of this list via YouTube this year may suggest that the College is not as in touch with their audiences as they think.)

Thumbs Down:  The list decidedly and historically focuses more on information deficit rather than cultural dexterity.  A quick review of the most recent edition of 75 unique factoids about this year's entering class of 2015 reveals more about what they don't know, rather than the unique things that they do know, when compared to those of us more senior to them, generationally speaking.  This might be an important error in omission. 

My concern here is simple.  Sure, there are a lot of suprising things that these students don't know given their age and experience in life.  But, given the complexities of the world and the social network that they are engaged with everyday, my guess is that there is a lot more that they do know than I did going off to college.  Perhaps another few factoids about the class could be added that reveal a bit more about their cultural, technological, and social agility when compared to prior generations.  That might give the advisor, teacher, and communicator a better way to connect with them.

Kudos to Beloit College for great information each year.  And, perhaps this list can even be more helpful with a few additions and perspectives in the future.  All for now.

Ian

Revisiting "High Noon" & Educational Relevance

It's been eight years since the landmark book "High Noon" by Jean Francois Rischard was published.  In the book, he outlined 20 global problems that we face and urged the reader to find collaborative ways in which to solve them.  The problems were severe then, and still are today, and getting worse by the minute.  They included:

Problems of Planet:

  • Global warming
  • Ecosystem losses
  • Fisheries depletion
  • Deforestation
  • Water deficits
  • Maritime safety and pollution

 Problems of Humanity:

  • Poverty
  • Peacekeeping and prevention of terrorism
  • Education for all
  • Global infectious diseases
  • Digital divide
  • Natural disaster prevention and mitigation

 Problems Needing Global Regulation:

  • Reinventing taxation for the 21st century
  • Biotechnology rules
  • Financial architecture
  • Illegal drugs
  • Trade, investment, and competition 
  • Intellectual property rules
  • E-commerce rules
  • International labor and migration rules

If these are the problems of our times, how are we truly preparing students to address them?  It seems that me that we are still mired in the past in our thinking.  We are preoccupied with such inadequate measures of success, such as narrow outcomes (college placement, job acquisition, or earning potential) or, better yet, how we get a leg up on China or India as a nation in our education system.  

I often think about the purpose of education.  Is it merely to get a good job and live a comfortable life?  Is it to find the intersection of passion and purpose in one's life?  Or, is it to enable us to leverage our collective skills and knowledge to advance humanity.  Worthy purposes, for sure, but still I think we need to reframe our thinking about education beyond simply college and career preparation.  

Now, how do we sell this to prospective students?  Actually, I am not worried about them.  It's their parents that have me baffled.

Ian