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Post details: Results and Results

Results and Results

Recently I noticed a disturbing parallel between our economy and our education. Both appear to be more and more focused on superficial short term results while neglecting less measurable long term objectives.

At schools a definite emphasis is placed on successful test passing which is slowly turning our educational institutions into conveyor belt prep farms. Students pass through a series of mindless drills that may prepare them well for the all important multiple choice questions but they do little to help them synthesize facts into a coherent body of knowledge. There is little time to learn how to put things into proper perspective and context or how to acquire analytical skills useful in real life - which does not usually come at us in the form of a multiple choice questionnaire. Sure, the kids can mechanically memorize reams of facts and test acing strategies, but they fail hopelessly where imagination and problem solving practice are needed.

In the world of economy, the situation is similar. The quarterly ritual of the Earning Season has put too much pressure on management to produce better than expected nominal results. Focusing on the bottom line leads to the same short sighted optics as viewing students performance through the prism of test passing. It may impose certain organizational discipline, but fails to accommodate less tangible effects, such as preserving environment, supporting future innovation, helping local communities and producing goods and services that have long term benefits. Not to mention the fact that our obsession with immediate profits is conducive to creating accounting and outright fraudulent behavior.

I think than our drive for purely quantitative performance criteria has been pushed a little bit too far. We need to find a system which will reward thinking rather than mechanical test wrestling. And one which will reward overall social utility rather than balance sheet gymnastics.

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