Should business determine what schools teach?

Should business determine what schools teach?

Business should have a major role in determining what schools teach. Education in America serves two primary functions: 1) expanding the way students find, process, and use information; and, 2) preparing them for work—entrepreneurial or employment. The second of these functions makes business a primary stakeholder in the content of what schools teach.

We learned to set lead type which is a technology used by Gutenberg in the 1400s

Educators are not, by necessity, aware of fast-moving trends in employable skills or the flows of global labor needs. Offshoring, outsourcing, and automation are likely not commonly addressed by teachers and professors; but, business is constantly faced with the realities of a changing economy, and forced to confront them for its success, if not survival. This real-time, real-life exposure and engagement with employment issues and entrepreneurial opportunities, makes practitioners and managers of business functions uniquely qualified to prescribe the most suitable and advantageous areas of study for students of today, who will become the workers of tomorrow.

Unfortunately, in the absence of business’ strong presence and participation in the curriculum-building process, education is relegated to teaching yesterday’s realities. When I was in junior high school, part of our required curriculum included a trade course. I chose Print Shop—a class intended to teach students the printing trade. We learned to set lead type which is a technology used by Gutenberg in the 1400s. Coincidentally, I ran a boutique advertising agency after I entered the workforce—we set type on early Macintosh computers.

In contrast to my junior high school experience, I recently completed a Master of Global Supply Chain Management at the University of Southern California. The program engages business to help define the curriculum and even specific skills needed for success in the industry. Business predicted more than 400,000 unfilled supply chain jobs in 2016 due to a lack of trained professionals; so, graduates from my program easily find employment, even foreign students that require visa sponsorship.

Clearly, the strategy employed by my graduate program is superior to that of my junior high school; and so is the resulting benefit to students. The importance of contribution by business to curriculum building is undeniable. As educators build coalitions of stakeholders, business should never be excluded.