I have been having some good discussion lately on the old subject of Sophistry. At least that is how I see the subject. In short here is the playing field: to what extent should a school behave as a business, or how is education to be seen in terms of a “service rendered?” There are a lot of fun questions for those of us trying to get out of the box of beareucratic buffonery called “modern education.” I thought I would kick them out for a little broader conversation.
- Is a school in anyway a business? Let’s define school as a place where one learns the skills necessary to pursue a life of learning and business to be any enterprise in which wages are earned for services or a product being rendered.
- If a school is not a business, what business do we have in paying teachers, charging tuition, owning buildings, etc.? In short, how does one pay the costs of schooling if it cannot charge for them?
- If a school is a business, then how does it “run” itself when its “commodity” is anything but typical in the business world. Note the subset of observations and further questions this brings up:
- It is not selling anything measurable. Skills are not measurable commodities that can be weighed and charged for accordingly.
- It is not providing any service with clear edges: teaching is not like being a physician where the disease is cured, or a lawyer where the judgment is given, etc.
- We render “diplomas” but if properly defined these simply state that the
student is now ready to begin learning.
I don’t know where all this leading, but it has been helpful in evaluating my position as an administrator and the roles/priorities that call for my attention each day. I would love further discussion of this whole topic…