SCHOOLS OF THE 21st CENTURY INNOVATE OR VEGETATE AND EVAPORATE
"Business demands innovation. There is a constant need to feel around with the fingers, to test the edges, but business schools, out of necessity, are condemned to teach the past."
Mark McCormack, from What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School
There is a pressing need to innovate at all levels in order to make education delivery more relevant and attractive to modern consumers -- the students and the public.
It has often been said, in the College of Education, that most effective teaching takes place in the primary schools, not in the colleges. This remark seems rather far-fetched but, unfortunately, in many instances, true. This can be explained by the fact that pedagogically trained teachers know how to innovate. They understand the teaching process and how their students learn. They know how to make use of educational technology.
Why do we have to innovate? There are many reasons. The 1990s is a decade wherein educational institutions are faced with many challenges.
To mention a few :
globalisation of markets, communications and resources;
the acceleration of technological change;
internalization of higher education;
internalization of curriculum at all levels;
western countries export their education as goods and services;
newly industrialized Asian countries under the spell of Japanese economic power are attracting the attention of the east and the west alike;
new trade zones have just been created, e.g. NAFTA, APEC after the collapse of communism;
tourism has worked a growing interest in the study of foreign cultures and civilizations.
The above phenomena demand a brain-racking study on the part of school managers and their administrators as to how to render their educational services more effectively and more relevantly to meeting consumers' needs. This connotes that a good deal of modification of school structure, curriculum and management style will be needed. A lot of innovation.
What is innovation? Professor Theodore Levitt of Harvard University very aptly defines innovation as follows :
"Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things."
Gaby A. Mendoza, President of Asian Institute of Management voiced his opinion in World Executive Digest of October 1990. He said :
"Excellence in teaching begins with the realization that it is not teaching but learning that is important."
More and more educators are coming to fully grasp the significance of this crucial point. It is the process of learning that matters. It is student-centered teaching that must be encouraged in teachers. The teacher's role must be switched from being omniscient to that of being a facilitator directing students to the sources of knowledge, and finally, to the true source of life.
The impact of advancements in technology on education and on the importance of the learning process may be demonstrated, in concrete terms, by the example of the Hudson Institute of California as reported in the Wall Street Journal, September 11, 1990.
Mr. Perelman, Director of Project Learning 2001 of the Hudson Institute asserts that computer-based, multi-media and other advanced technologies now provide great diversity in instructional designs. This technology also enables us to custom-make programs to meet each student's individual needs, abilities and goals. So he say, 'sameness' is obsolete. He further claims that, “perhaps the most pernicious myth thwarting progress in education today is the shibboleth that 'technology will never replace the classroom teacher.”
In concluding, I'd like to refer to the book In Search of Excellence. In the book the authors speak of many big companies that have stopped developing simply because they have stopped innovating.
"The most discouraging fact of big corporate life is the loss of what got them big in the first place: innovation."
This warning can very well be applied to all, the small and the so-called big famous schools. If one stops innovating, one stops progressing! One vegetates, dies and eventually evaporates.
*ABAC Campus New (December 1992).
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