Friday, October 13, 2006

Education v. Training – Lesson One

Training and education are not the same. They employ similar tools, but they are not the same. Let me illustrate the difference with the following example that you might follow every morning.

Making a Good Cup of Coffee:

Training - Terminal Objective: Given a drip coffee system, pot, clean water, filters, coffee, a measuring spoon, and a source of electrical power, make a pot of coffee that tastes good to those who claim to be regular coffee drinkers.

Training – Process:
1. Fill coffee pot with clean water until it is filled to level marker 8.
2. Pour water into system’s water reservoir.
3. Place a paper filter in the filter basket
4. Using a 1 Tbs. measuring spoon, measure 8 level tablespoons of coffee into the filter.
5. Close the filter basket.
6. Plug the coffee maker in to the outlet.
7. Turn on the coffee maker.
8. Wait for the red light to come on indicating that the cycle is complete.
9. Remove the coffee pot carefully from the system’s hotplate and pour one cup of coffee.
10. Replace pot onto hotplate.
11. Check color, smell, and flavor for goodness, and evaluate.
12. Serve coffee to others for their evaluation.
13. If too strong, use less coffee or more water. If too weak, do the opposite.
14. Repeat process until coffee is rated “good” by coffee drinkers.

If any of Steps 1 through 7 fails, then the coffee making process fails. Steps 11 through 14 represent an improvement process that let’s you know not only that coffee was made, but that it was evaluated as “good”.

Now, for Education.

Education – Learning Objective: Learn about where coffee grows, how coffee is processed, and one method for making a cup of coffee.

(1) Coffee is a drink derived from beans grown at usually high elevations that are warm and sunny, like the Hawaiian Islands, Columbia and Peru in Latin America, and Kenya, in Africa. Many other locations also grow coffee beans.
(2) The bean first ripens, and the peel is removed. The remaining bean is dried and shipped all around the world in this raw, dry state.
(3) When a coffee company wants to release the flavor of the bean, it roasts it over fairly high heat until the bean “pops” and turns brown. The bean can then be ground into the powder we commonly see in our stores.
(4) Many people make coffee in the morning. They fill the coffee maker with water, put in the coffee, and in about 10 minutes the coffee is ready to drink.

Okay, so there’s more general information in the Education Process, and more specific information in the Training Process. That’s one difference, for sure, at least in this example. Education can also be comprehensive and detailed. Think of your last math or lab science class. In fact, think exactly of your last lab science class. In that class, you used a lab procedure to carry out a specific task or set of tasks. That was training, and if you think about it, the lab stuff was often more interesting than the education stuff you heard in the lecture hall.

The point is that training is about preparing to perform work, and education is about preparing to understand the kind of work or life you’d like to live. There’s plenty of room for both, but the profound neglect of training in America’s educational system is at the root of unemployment and the dependence on federal, state, and municipal programs, like food stamps. The Job Corps program at the U.S. Department of Labor exists, in great part, because there are practically no more vocational programs left in regular school systems. The Community College system has taken over some of that work, but nothing has fully replaced it.

The Brits have it all over us in this regard. Accountants do not need university degrees to become accountants, and the same holds true of engineers, estimators, and a host of other professions. They have a set of nationally recognized diploma programs that train professionals. One may also be able to acquire such training in a university program(me), but university education has still not replaced these professional apprenticeships. Here, in America, each profession has rooted out all of the apprenticeship programs and handed the process over entirely to colleges. Now, you can take the CPA exam immediately upon graduation and, assuming you passed, you will become a CPA when you satisfy the work requirements (three years working as an accountant, or less). Before, you could only take the exam after you had worked as an accountant for three years, despite your excellent university performance. The accountant had to experience the profession over three years before even being allowed to sit for the exam. And you absolutely know that three years working on more progressively complex accounts is deeper experience than four years earning a BSBA, or BA in Accounting.

The one field that still recognizes the importance of training is medicine. Doctors will regularly talk about graduating from college and “getting my training at the XYZ Hospital”. An MD degree doesn’t allow you to practice medicine. First, you must be trained to treat live patients in an internship, and even after your internship, your residency is usually another several years of training; even more for surgical specializations. I'm guessing that a doctor with practical training on live patients is the kind of doctor you prefer, unless you run a morgue. The combination of lab training and education you get in medical school is not enough for society to allow a person to practice medicine. How would you like to ride in a plane where the pilot only studies the physics of flight and sits behind the controls of a simulator?

Stay tuned for your next lesson: What’s Wrong with Teaching to the Test?

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