Minding a School’s Business

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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…


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