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Thursday, October 30, 2008

The problem of marketing

I tried my own hand at marketing the other day with the phrase, "It's an Education, not just a diploma." The response was underwhelming. There are many reasons for this, but they are not going to be a part of this post. I'll address those at another time. I need to return to the issue of the round table (actually it was oblong). My fear is that if we don't produce something, something will be produced for us. So the question is, what should one actually produce?" This is a real question especially if you don't know what problem it is you are trying to solve. I asked that very question at one point during the conversations and got no answer. That may be why members of A & S aren't interested in the discussion. They see no problem.

Let's assume for the moment because it will help my ego that the above phrase is acceptable. Most of us view what we do as important and more than just being employed at a diploma mill. Most of us also believe we do what we do quite well and that with more support we could do it even better. The problem is explaining to eighteen year olds, their parents, our Board of Trustees, our President, and the state legislature what it is we really do and why it is important that these students (young and old) learn things other than stemm. (Please do not read this as my dismissing the stemm programs, but let's be realistic, this whole affair is really about the "rest" of us.) The programs in stemm have received resources and done quite well. The grant money derived from these programs is excellent and their graduates do well. We should all applaud them. The problem is explaining what an education really is.

Just for starters, I asked myself what I believe one of our graduates should be able to do. Here's the preliminary list: be creative, understand the scientific method, know something about western thought and from where our culture derives its values, show problem solving ability, display rational thinking, understand the role of faith and religion in societies, understand why other societies think differently than we do, be able to write coherently in a variety of forms, and display the ability to speak in public (I am after all in communication).That's the short list. And, that's the problem in a nutshell. Do we organizationally and requirement wise actually achieve even this short list with our graduates? Perhaps there is no problem and we should be happy in our work. That's not likely to happen. We need to be able to say in a coherent and logical manner what it is we do.

1 comment:

sirLawrence said...

you are right on target, david. in the last several decades thousands of articles have espoused the value of a liberal arts education- but these articles have been written for us and rarely appear in the public media. LJ himself claims to value the arts, and i suppose he does; but he needs to express that value to the community and put (at least some of) his resources where his mouth is, rather than relying on a "trickle down" from stemm economic success. as was stated at the roundtable, the arts are pretty good at generating economic and standard of living improvements on their own, and help make toledo a place of special recognition.