XMBA, education

In graduate school there was an annual meeting where undergraduates could share their feedback. Each year they asked graduating graduate students to attend and my final year I was asked along with a few others. 

It was an odd way to collect feedback. They were leaving, I was leaving. No institutional knowledge was being built, retained, or refined. “It’s no big deal,” someone told me. 

One student showed up at the scheduled time and after self-congratulatory presentations about our year the student stood up and asked, “Why didn’t I learn anything?” 

This was quite the time to bring this up. At the end of the year.

Only after leaving graduate school did I realize the answer. That student had the wrong model. He’d approached school like it was an equation; ‘Solve for X’. Or an activity; ‘download this software update’.  That’s not how life is though. Life is more dealing with problems as they come up, failing and flailing and sometimes succeeding. The best training to be a teacher, I learned, is being a teacher. 

Too little of what we taught was educational, at least in the practical sense. Luckily I taught one class the students loved. They spent each week in a classroom and wrote a three to five page paper about their experience, connecting what they saw to what they’d learned. Routinely the end of semester feedback was, ‘Every class should be like this!’, ‘I learned so much’, and ‘That graduate student did a great job.’ The last one I made up. The class offered a chance for students to be out and about, learning, doing, making, and conquering obstacles. 

The real kicker for my education on education came years later with children, the boss fight of education. If someone can be a parent, they can be a teacher. 

That lone student misread the direction of instruction. He expected us to teach him when instead he had to go and learn. 

In our space series we saw that Scott Kelly needed knowledge, environment, and motivation to learn. That was thirty years ago. Today all of those things can be independent of school. They don’t have to be, but it’s an option, one we’ll look at this week. 

This subject is timely for me. A friend started her Duke MBA. My kids are back in school. Let’s take a campus tour of the XMBA.