ASQ Influential Voices Contribution: Quality and Education - It's Like Herding Cats!
In her May 12, 2014 View from the Q blog post, guest blogger, Julia McIntosh, indicated an “especially ‘hot topic’ emerged during the last keynote” of ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Dallas, TX. The topic had to do with the link between quality and education.
Keynote speaker, Michelle Rhee, spoke about the poor quality of education in many U.S. 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.” Rhee’s message resonated and was acknowledged with a standing ovation.
McIntosh asks her Influential Voices Bloggers: “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’? [sic] And finally, what is the role of quality in improving public education in any nation?” These are all great questions, but where to begin?
It Starts at the Top
I theorize that quality education will more likely flow from an educational institution which has at its organizational core a “culture of Quality.” However, many in education believe quality does not pertain to them; they believe quality is just one of those things they must teach to business students because it’s what THEY will encounter in the business world. Education is a “slippery fish,” according to one academic leader. He further indicates, “It’s like herding cats!” Follow this link http://youtu.be/Pk7yqlTMvp8 to further understand what “herding cats” is all about. A University librarian once responded to a complaint about the chaotic nature of the business school by stating, “We just teach business here!” These idioms and comments are symptoms; they are symptoms of organizations which have either never given Quality a chance or have tried and given up. There is far more that I could write on quality related to education. But are we understanding the challenge and/r question? Quality of what? It is Quality in education, quality of education, or quality and education? Regardless, we need to stop making excuses for poor quality in, and, or of education.