Those who know me know that I have always been thinking about different things that we should teach the younger generations. I haven´t post about all the things that we should be teaching, but there is one that I haven´t quite nail down on the list and it has come to my mind lately.
It seems to me that the amount of knowledge in any given area it´s too much to be handled correctly by any given person. Just keeping up to date, filtering information, changing old ideas to know ones based on new evidence and the like, it´s quite hard for the normal person, and it is usually only done well by a few.
Now consider that any business has to deal with quite a few different areas of knowledge, from legal (need to hire a lawyer to do the contracts), tax and money management (need and accountant and finance manager) to IT (need a geek to fix your computer) and marketing (need a designer and a salesman). If you hire the people to do all this as part of your payroll, it becomes quite hard to become profitable or even open the company, therefore you will need to outsource a good portion of it.
The problem when you outsource in choosing the right one. As everyone who owns a business knows two companies can have the same buzz words in their websites and marketing materials but the real service is quite different. For example you would like an accounting firm that not only pays your taxes every month but that actually helps you reduce the amount of taxes by giving you some investment strategy of helping you give your employees some benefits. Or an IT company that not only responds once you have a computer down and it’s costing you money every minute that goes unfixed, but rather you will want a company that will be monitoring your network and computers making sure that they will not fail.
It seems to me that the skill required to make the right choices can be taught at high school. For example you should do some research before you even put a company in your top 3 choices, but everybody thinks they how to do research. Research is a certain skill that has to acquired, and it´s not the same thing to do research for your company helping them choice the right outsourcing provider that the research you did on Google for that Shakespeare paper on your last semester. There are certain basics in research like choosing the right variables to be measure, the size of your sample, the places you will find the information, the weight of each variable, etc. Those principles are rarely though, and then they are not followed by giving them 5 or 6 different things to research to actually get it.
But more than that, research and decision making require you to put together many things you have learned. That is probably what matters the most, in our current education systems, things are separated, and you can´t mix physics, with literature and geography on the same class. So when you are required to use the knowledge from different areas into a single research and decision making process you really suck at it.
I think that that last semester or so of high school, people should concentrate only on researching and solving problems that require you to put together knowledge from different areas into a new and unknown area. That way you will force yourself to understand the basics behind all the stuff that you learn and use them in distinct areas.