Author Topic: Why Education Without Creativity Isn't Enough  (Read 1497 times)

Offline Magic Wand

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Why Education Without Creativity Isn't Enough
« on: September 17, 2011, 04:40:49 pm »
By: anya kamenetz  Fast Company

Science and math won't improve U.S. job prospects. But creativity will.



Last April, when sharing a stage at Facebook with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, President Obama summed up the conventional wisdom on what's needed to shape American minds for the global marketplace. "We've got to do such a better job when it comes to STEM education," he said. "That's how we're going to stay competitive for the future." If we could just tighten standards and lean harder on the STEM disciplines--science, technology, engineering, mathematics--we'd better our rigorous rivals in India and China, and get our economy firing on all cylinders. As with much conventional wisdom, this is conventional in the worst sense of that word.

If you want the truth, talk to the competition. Phaneesh Murthy is CEO of iGate Patni, a top-10 Indian outsourcing company. Murthy oversees 26,000 employees--not the ones snapping SIM chips into cell phones or nagging you about your unpaid AmEx bill, but the ones writing iPhone apps, processing mortgage applications, and redesigning supply chains--in jobs that would be handled in the U.S. by highly paid, college-educated workers. In other words, you. Yet Murthy, a regular bogeyman of outsourcing, believes American education is by far the best in the world. "The U.S. education system is much more geared to innovation and practical application," says Murthy. "It's really good from high school onward." To compete long term, we need more brainstorming, not memorization; more individuality, not standardization.
"In India, it takes engineers two to three years to recover from the damage of the education system."

Murthy will tell you that the outsourcing industry is not some unstoppable force: It's hitting real limits. Indian engineers are not nearly as cheap or plentiful as they used to be. "Labor costs were so cheap you could always throw more people at a problem," he says. "But wages are up 14% to 15% each year for the last 20 years." A software engineer who would have earned $700 a year in the late '80s now gets roughly $12,000 a year--still a huge discount compared to the U.S., but not peanuts. Despite the lure of these higher wages, India's schools can't keep up with demand. In the late '80s, Indian software companies hired about 100 graduates a year; 25 years later, they need about 200,000 every spring, an astronomical increase in demand. And yet the supply of engineering grads has merely doubled, making it harder than ever for Murthy to compete for talent.

As a short-term solution, iGate Patni is hiring grads who majored in other disciplines, including math and physics. The company is also spending more on training, which is both a necessity and a virtue. "We've developed much stronger training programs in-house," Murthy says. "Four months of training in engineering fundamentals, and then for eight months the new hires are paired with a senior person for mentoring." This commitment to ongoing education is something U.S. companies would be smart to adopt, says Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur and tech-industry scholar with appointments at the University of California, Berkeley; Duke; and Harvard Law School. "These companies have perfected the art of workforce development. At Infosys, it's four months of intensive training and an additional week of training each year. At IBM in the U.S., new hires get a day and a half of orientation and they're lucky to get a week of vacation." Wadhwa argues that such training justifies India's enormous annual wage leaps, in that workers are becoming more valuable and productive each year.

Yet this kind of corporate training can only move the needle so far. A few times during our interview, Murthy repeats, "Overall, in iGate Patni, we want to re-create the McDonald's model." This means, he explains, that the company will set forth standard routines for as much of its business as possible, to provide "a consistent level of service." This McDonald's-ization of the company would allow it to spend less on training; as creative achievements are translated into checklists and routines, the high-quality, high-pay jobs of today become the high-turnover, low-wage jobs of the future. Pity the Indian software engineer!
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." --Aristotle, Greek philosopher

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Offline Magic Wand

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Re: Why Education Without Creativity Isn't Enough
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 07:51:51 am »
inspiring student video
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." --Aristotle, Greek philosopher

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Offline Curtis Metcalf

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Re: Why Education Without Creativity Isn't Enough
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2011, 10:54:29 am »
Imagine Mars!
I like it.
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."