Educating a Quality Workforce

[This is a guest post by Julia McIntosh of ASQ’s communications department.]

Just as last year, ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement provided some great topics for discussion on View From the Q. One especially “hot” topic emerged during the last keynote of the conference, and this was the link between quality and education.

As summarized here, education reformer Michelle Rhee spoke about the poor quality of education in many U.S. public schools. Low-quality education results in a low-quality workforce, she said. Another challenge, according to Rhee, is that students in the U.S. are praised for poor performance or for “just showing up.” As a result, they expect to be celebrated for mediocrity, rather than for quality.

This message resonated with the audience more than any other idea expressed at a keynote–or maybe even the entire conference.

What do you think? Do you see a correlation between the quality of education in your country and the young people entering the workforce? Does your culture celebrate success or is any attempt considered “good enough”? And finally, what is the role of quality in improving public education in any nation?

4 thoughts on “Educating a Quality Workforce”

  1. Having been a teacher, I’ve seen this and heard it time and time again. We were told point blank, “praise the child for all efforts, answers, and comments even if they are incorrect.” We were told that we don’t want any child to feel like they are a failure and that when we, as teachers, did not praise the efforts we were sending that message. Even when I had to go along with the powers that be or lose my job, I totally disagree with this philosophy. Just like kids know when the do a good job or not, they know when they are being honestly praised or when they are being what I liked to call smoozed. I do think that in some cases we are turning out mediocre high school grads, and therefore low-quality workforce. Some kids learn early how to work the “system” so they do just enough to get by. This attitude than transfers into their work life as a “I don’t care,” “so-what so-and-so will pick up the slack” and so on. I believe that we need to give SINCERE praise for well deserved efforts and stop coddling our kids.

  2. Public schools need to include more andralogogic learning sessions. When all is required is to show up and stay quite, while the teacher worries about pass/fail rates. Education by nature creates desire to be more and have more.

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