School or Business?


I want to start off by saying, I expected Ed Freeman’s talk to be significantly educational, but wow….I didn’t know that he was going to have the most awesome beard. After reading many of the posts regarding Freeman’s speech, I wanted to take a bit of a different approach in regards to his theories of ethics for businesses. I want to do this by focusing on a business that may not be primarily recognized in our culture as a business, but essentially is. The business I am referring to is the modern day educational system. In today’s society, universities are charging thousands and thousands of dollars of tuition for students, turning our educational system into one of the largest businesses in our country. Due to this reason, the question I would have asked Freeman, would have been, “Do you think the purpose of the modern day educational system has lost its value as universities now deem earning profits as important as providing students with a well-rounded education.”

I think this would have been a good question for various reasons. “Ethics is a sacred thing,” said Freeman, so when is the cost of tuition too much for a university to charge students? One of the primary points of Freeman’s discussion was ethics and how profits as the purpose of a business is an antiquated theory. Both of these aspects are underlying issues in the modern educational system. It seems as today universities are the like products they are trying to sell to high school students throughout the nation. Come to our school because we are the best party school in the country! Come to our school because we’re only 30 minutes away from New York City! Come to our school because we have the number one football team in the nation! Yes, all these things are great to consider when applying to a place you are going to be at for the next four years, but why have these aspects gained more importance over the education that the school is providing? Due to influences such as these, many of my friends have opted out of going to strong academic school and instead chosen to go to a school such as Alabama because they market their football program as one of the major perks of attending their institution where students will enjoy attending football games and tailgating more than the offerings of a more enlightening management course at Bucknell for example. (No offense to our football team)

Additionally another flaw in our business like educational system perhaps may be the grading system. I say this because grades are like incentives for studying and doing your homework, but as Freeman says “incentives make performance worse.” Unfortunately, institutions value the way comprehend certain learning topics by providing students with a letter grade. As a student myself and from what my friends have also told me, this often leads to simply memorizing for exams in order to attain a high letter grade. The issue with this is that as soon as the exam is over, CTRLàALTàDELETE and poof students forget all of the required information because we are pressured into learning specific information for a 52 minute time period rather than learning information simply to help us apply certain material in the real world.

I am not exactly sure what Freeman would have said to my question. As he says, “there are lots of ways to run a business,” but I think he would have said that although institutions are raising tuitions every year and focusing on making more money, universities like business should endeavor to create more value for students in the classroom rather than elsewhere because that is their primary purpose of attending a university. This would probably be Freeman’s advice to run a kick ass school.

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