Archives for posts with tag: Education

Do as I say, not as I do. This is the standard coaching refrain. We expect the people we coach to put our instructions into practice. We demonstrate by our words not our actions. This can be for a number of reasons:

  • They’re better at it than we are
  • We can’t do it that way
  • We cant do it that way any more
  • We don’t do that way because we do it in an engrained way we can’t or won’t get out of
  • We do a short-cut version of it because we know it inside out but we need them to learn all the steps and how the steps relate to each other before they’re good enough to expedite the whole thing

This is a tough ask in coaching because we’re trying to lead by words, not by our actions which is the standard way to inspire people. At some point every coach will hit this if the people they’re coaching become better at it than they currently are. That’s what you want as a coach, at least a good one.

In business this is slightly different. We’re supposed to coach rather than manage, otherwise our direct reports don’t get a chance to learn it for themselves and grow into the role, eventually expanding beyond it. In business you can’t expect to instruct someone how to follow a process and then not follow the process yourself. Chances are they won’t follow the process you want them to and they won’t respect you either.

The answer, in sports as well as business, in fact in everything as well as business, is to come clean and be honest. ‘I don’t do this myself because [insert honest reason] but I’m advising you to do it this way because it is the best way, and you will get the best results from it.’ Then you have to let their actions, and their results, do the talking.

 

A while back, we were doing the rounds of secondary schools with our first born to see where he’d like to pursue the most important decade of his life, educationally speaking. We’re lucky in that we live in a small town but we have 3 secondary schools to choose from, each of them different in their own way.

I asked each one of the about the provision of keyboarding – or typing as it was known to me when I was in secondary school, and back then it was only girls that were allowed to do it… – lessons for kids. Guess how many of them provide such lessons?

None.

I was astounded. I have grown up as the generation who were already passing through or past secondary school when computers came in. We made it up as we went along and after 3 decades of muddling through I can do about 30 words a minute using about half of my available digits. I cross hands and lose millions of split-seconds a year in productivity and effectiveness. I neither have the time nor the inclination to learn to type properly. It would be like a ‘righty’ stopping all work for 3 months and learning to play golf left-handed.

For kids who are 12-18 in today’s era, keyboarding skills are crucial, vital even to productive education and careers. Sure, you can learn online with software and commitment, but these skills are best taught by disciplined, patient teachers. Sure, the qwerty keyboard might be replaced by something revolutionary and probably ‘swipey’ at some point, but right now, it’s what we have and I want my kids being taught a key life-skill at school.

It’s madness I tell you, madness…

As we speak, my son is sampling a range of optional subjects for his new secondary level school. They’re all great subjects, but because of the small size of the school and the teaching abilities of the staff, he will have to make 4 ‘either or’ choices.

One of the either / or choices is business or art. Unfortunately it’s not art in the general sense that we should all strive to be artists, but it’s the painting and drawing variety.

I didn’t have the chance to study business at school. The closest I could get was economics at A level, and I eschewed that unknown quantity for languages, which I liked and was relatively good at. As a consequence I wasn’t exposed to business in any great degree until I got my first job as a college graduate. Of course, some people never brush shoulders with business their entire lives, preferring a life devoted to many of the industries in the pubic sector, like teaching, healthcare, academia and the like.

I think business is a really good idea for kids at school, and why not in primary school as well as secondary? For better or worse our lives are pretty well governed by money, so the sooner kids get their heads around the concepts of money, value, the effect of time on both and managing cash and priorities, the better. It also introduces them to the world of entrepreneurs and being enterprising, which – rather than big business – is the future of work for many of us and gives us control, flexibility and choice, which are all vital to a good quality of life.

Richard Branson has written very recently about the benefits of learning about business in schools and Seth Godin has some very well thought out views on what schools should be getting kids to do. So we’re in pretty good company then. It’s my son’s choice what he takes, and of course I and Mrs D will have some influence, but I hope he chooses business, and does it with artistry.