The modern teacher: longshoreman or transportation engineer?

Posted at 2:52 pm on 02/14/2018 by Rahul Razdan

As we have discussed in previous articles (HERE) or the Ted Talk (HERE), the current educational system largely views students as commodity vessels into which knowledge is poured in an industrial manufacturing process.

The fundamental structure of the current model is driven by an economic imperative from the last century around the scarcity of the instructor and classroom which is actually no longer true. Also, the actual process of teaching occurs in a craftsman-like model which has not changed for hundreds of years.

As discussed in HERE, most industries start out with a craftsmen-like model and then over time are optimized through continuous improvement processes and innovation. It is interesting to see this movement in the context of shipping and contrast to the education system.

Fifty years ago, shipping was dominated by the scenes reminiscent from classic movies such as “On the waterfront.” The scene consisted of longshoreman who provided the muscle to load and unload ships. This process required skill, strength, and stamina. The work was difficult and in fact to protect workers, a union was formed which focused on optimizing the longshoreman’s day.

If we cut to modern times, the scene consists of cranes moving containers from ship to trucks. The efficiency and cost has been improved by order-of-magnitude through the constant application of innovation, capital and process intellectual property. The whole process is orchestrated by a transportation engineer. It is interesting to note that the rules/contracts at the longshoreman world do not seem to even apply in this world.

Today, teachers across the world get up every day and are caught in a very manual process of developing the lecture, delivering the lecture, and performing assessment day-after-day. There is very little automation available to teachers besides the textbook. Much like all craftsman models, the delivery to the students is highly variable in quality and consistency. However, with the use of technology, deeper investments in automation, and an improvement in the teacher/student interaction model, a significant shift in capability is possible. In this world, the teacher operates in the role of the transportation engineer with easy access to powerful tools and with the ability to personalize the experience for every student.

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