The 5 Most Annoying Problems I Have with School

The value of your education should be evaluated in terms of how well it prepared you to go out into the world and achieve a rewarding career in whatever field you choose. My career meandered through various types of organizations and jobs, from an entry level analyst position in a monopoly telecommunications firm to president in a highly competitive data and internet business to career development author and mentor to young professionals. My school experience didn’t prepare me well enough for my 40 - year journey; these are the top 5 annoyance I have with school.


School at all levels teaches you’re taught to comply with what is being taught; learn the content and don’t deviate from it. Follow the rules is the theme at school. The curriculum represents “the truth” in the world to students who view the subject matter — and the teacher’s bias in teaching — as gospel. This is a problem for organizations that are thus faced with selecting the best conformance person in terms of their education and therefore find difficulty finding the right balance of stability and creativity in potential candidates.

Rewards for fitting in

A corollary to the previous point, is that “A’s” are handed out to those in class who have mastered the course content perfectly. Achieving 95% in your science exam means you are a science master, whereas a 30% mark means you’re not doing as well as you should in terms of learning the rote content. A high mark = almost perfect compliance; a low mark = low compliance. In business, rewards in most organizations go to those who fit in; who comply with the way things are done around here. Who is best at applying the traditional doctrines of an organization seem to get recognition, those that step out and challenge the norms often attract negative attention. This is a real problem because it doesn’t encourage creativity and innovation which is what is needed for organizations to survive and thrive in an uncertain and unpredictable environment.


School teaches you copious amounts of subject matter but much of it isn’t transferable into business.
  • Business needs innovation and creativity; schools teach compliance;
  • Business needs adaptability from employees; school teaches predictability using standard formulae;
  • Business needs recovery skills when mistakes are made; school teaches do it right the first time and is silent on what to do if actions don’t work right the first time;
  • Business needs personalization in the solutions provided; school teaches mass marketing.
Curriculums need to be constantly revised, not with different ways of teaching traditional pedagogy but with new topics that help organizations succeed. Furthermore, schools need to back-off paying so much attention to teaching about social structure dynamics as well as societal injustices, and step up to at least starting a conversation about the skills necessary to drive economic success.

Teachers’ role

Teachers don’t think about students as customers; they view them as objects to mould into conformists that follow learn 2500 year old doctrine with their particular biases. A bit of generalization perhaps, but there are far fewer teachers in schools that try to exceed the expectations of their students than the number who view their job to force their students to learn. This is a problem because leadership needs an attitude of “How can I help?” rather than one of assuming they know what’s right for someone else and ordering them to comply.

Business leaders missing

It’s one thing to criticize schools for not teaching business survival competencies but if engagement by business leaders in the school system is lacking it can’t be held totally culpable. School teachers don’t know how to run a business; they’ve never done it. They may know the principles of “good” customer service from text books but they’ve never how to apply them in a real world situation — knowing is not the same as learning. This is a real problem because if business leaders are not actively engaged in schools, teachers will never start to understand the nuances they must start to teach, and students will continue to have credentials that fall short of business expectations. Active school engagement should be written into every leader’s annual performance plan with specific objectives to achieve. In fact this is such an important issue, it should command executive responsibility — the VP Schools position should be established to prioritize the need. The relationship between schools and business is too loose; tighten it up and the quality of students to help organizations will soar. Related: What Happens When You Destroy Your Own Rules?