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University, Trade & Systemic Education

Systemic Solutions with Martyn Carruthers

Education around the world is confronted by volatile economies, demographic change, softening public opinion, reduced government support and commercial competition. Education requires more than employee restructuring or financial management. The key issue is relevance in tomorrow's world.

University Education

University education has been an educational holy grail for hundreds of years. Universities have been endowed by royalty, religions, governments and successful alumni, and an ever-increasing number of young people compete for placement.

University education provides knowledge - "know what" and "know why". The more pragmatic "know how" and "know when" is often relegated to technical and vocational colleges. This fact may decrease the relevance of university education as the gap between knowledge and competence increases.

University education, whether relevant or not, will remain in demand, as long as government regulations, professional associations and conservative hiring procedures require university diplomas. A person's skills, abilities and individual excellence are less important than their paperwork.

(And the paperwork needs careful scrutiny. "Mail-order degrees" from spurious colleges, unknown universities and fake degree mills plague the letter boxes and email inboxes of the world.)

Modern universities can be perceived as a luxury of an energy-rich economy - a luxury that, unless alternative long-term energy sources are harnessed, will likely decay proportional to oil reserves.

University and Commercial Discoveries

Since World War II, most important discoveries have been made in commercial laboratories. The laser, the transistor, polio vaccine, microchips, the hologram, the personal computer, nuclear magnetic resonance, the CAT scan ... and many more. Universities may train technologists - but universities are not where technology advances.

Watch a university scientist start a project. Count the grant applications and weigh the paperwork. Count the number of approvals needed for steering committees and assess the time waiting for answers. Note the politics to get the support of the department chairman and the resources committee, while monitoring rival researchers. Note the maneuvering to get work space, computer time and assistants. Few commercial scientists need to waste so much precious time.

Educational Process

The process of education is different to the halls of academia. Young people who qualify receive 5-10 years of education, consisting primarily of classroom lectures and guided library research, may be ill-prepared for the reality of a changing world.

Students know that they are unlikely to use 90% of what they learn - and that their examinations merely test whether they can remember something long enough to repeat it. Later they find that 90% of the knowledge that they actually use came from other sources than formal education. University students are expected to jump through academic hoops - so that they can prove their persistence; often at the enormous expense of reduced life experience. Knowledge is no substitute for wisdom.

As literacy became normal, bookstores appeared and the need for specialist educators dropped. Internet access is now revolutionizing education. Academic knowledge (know-why and know-what) has diminished in its sanctity. Technology (know-how, know-which and know-when) has become the golden key that open the doors of success. An old story claims that many university drop-outs later employ those students who completed their university education.

Seek the experienced, not the learned. Arabic Proverb

Ruts are Graves

University tenure implies that time teaching a subject improves the worth of the teacher. Tenure evaluation focuses on published articles and grants, not on faculty development.

Expertise in abstract knowledge provides few employment opportunities outside of academia, where such knowledge can be recycled to new generations of students. Businesses and corporations expect results - not papers.

Many academic fields have increasing competition to educational resources that are developing independently outside formal education. Computer science, once an ivory tower specialty, has become synonymous with self-educated expertise. Psychology is becoming a science of mediocrity - a preoccupation with statistics and theories - that must now compete with a multitude of self-help systems that may provide better emotional control, success and relationship skills than can be found in a PhD course.

Dr Clare W. Graves (a post-doctoral student of Dr. Abram Maslow) postulated that human societies develop - and regress - in predictable ways; and explored the underlying codes that shape human nature and drive evolutionary change. Graves described eight "value systems" that provide a systemic frame for predicting human dynamics. Each "value system" provides a stable plateau on the mountain of human development. (Graves' value systems are described as memes in Spiral Dynamics by Beck and Cowan, (ISBN 155786-940-5)).

Graves 1, 2 & 3 . Graves 4, 5 & 6 . Graves 7, 8 & 9

Systemic Education

Know-why and know-what are the domain of universities. Know-how and know-which are the domain of technological colleges and trade schools. An emerging choice is systemic education, which offers a synthesis of academia and technology, in which academic know-how is upgraded by systemic coaching, accelerated learning and expert modeling:

  • Systemic coaching - rapidly improve competence
  • Accelerated Learning - rapidly acquire new skills
  • Expert modeling - rapidly replicate expert performance

Systemic Solutions offers a wide perspective, examining how to serve future generations: how to develop skills for predicting "future history" - skills that can select appropriate solutions and ways to avoid long-term and expensive mistakes.

The left column of the following table indicates the primary thrust of university education. The central column includes techniques utilized by technical and vocational schools, and the right column describes some emerging qualities of systemic education:

Knowledge based Education

Skill based Education

Systemic Education

Rooted in traditional assumptions Rooted in duplicating success Rooted in integrity
Individual differences are ignored Individual differences are blurred Individual differences are celebrated
Focus on understanding problems Focus on solving problems Focus on divergent qualities
Focus on examining the past Focus on acting now Focus on future consequences
Teacher's authority is position Teacher's authority is competence Teacher's authority is integrity
Focus on historical evidence Focus on current situations Focus on predictive accuracy
Focus on theoretical structure Focus on demonstrated skill Focus on creative flexibility
Assumes students need knowledge Assumes students need skills Assumes students need purpose
Focus on accumulating knowledge Focus on developing skills Focus on developing qualities
Gain acknowledgement through papers Gain acknowledgement through projects Gain acknowledgement through achievable visions
Ignores unconscious process Utilizes unconscious process Celebrates unconscious process
Skills serve to increase knowledge Knowledge serves to increase skills Knowledge and skills serve human systems
Internal solutions to understand situations External solutions to overcome barriers Systemic solutions to benefit humanity

Systemic Education synthesizes knowledge and skills, focusing on elevating and integrating conscious strategies and unconscious process. Following the terminology of Dr Clare W. Graves; Systemic Education reflects a Level 7 world-view; Skill-Based Education reflects Level 5 and Knowledge-Based Education reflects Level 4.

Level 6 Community Education not described above, is common in post-industrial countries such as Canada, Switzerland and Scandinavia. Level 6 education is typified by non-profit information sharing, equity and consensual decision-making. Levels 8 and 9 have yet to emerge.

Graves' values levels also reflect physical and emotional age. Children are born in Level 1 (survival) and develop level 2 skills (family / tribal) at home. They learn to express ego (level 3+) at school - and may never develop beyond that level. Those that develop will learn to value stable, establishment (level 4+) and, if they continue to develop, later value success-based entrepreneurial skills (level 5+). A reaction against level 5 produces people who value consensus community-based values (level 6+). Further developmental steps produces systemic thinkers (level 7+) and true global citizens (level 8+).

Constructivist-Systemic Education

Educational establishments providing Systemic Education are uncommon. The following educational pattern is utilized throughout Systemic Solutions; which trains Systemic Coaches. (Systemic Coaching is a set of diagnostic, remedial and planning skills that are applicable for individual coaching, partnership coaching, family coaching and organizational coaching).

  1. Observe a system
  2. Describe the qualities of a system
  3. Create hypotheses about connections between elements
  4. Create models of systemic elements and interactions
  5. Experiment to test the validity of hypotheses and models
  6. Formulate theories, laws and principals
  7. Apply theories, laws and principals to create systemic tools

    1. Observe a system
    2. Describe the qualities of a system
    3. Create hypotheses about connections between elements
    4. Create models of systemic elements and interactions
    5. Experiment to test the validity of hypotheses and models
    6. Formulate theories, laws and principals
    7. Apply theories, laws and principals to create systemic tools
    8. Solve applied tasks using systemic tools
    9. Observe the systemic results (and recycle to step 1)

    Applications of Systemic Education

    Systemic Education fulfills the goals of Knowledge-Based, Skill-Based and Community Based education while moving into Systems Thinking.

    • Acquire appropriate knowledge for stability and security
    • Develop success skills to improve expert performance
    • Learn relationship skills for empathy and life quality
    • Learn systemic skills for flexible competence within integrated systems

    Copyright 2002-2017 by Martyn Carruthers. All rights reserved.