Friday, September 27, 2013

Tuition Business: Adapt or Die

The education game here is going to change but not in a hurry. If you are in the tuition business this is the risk of a being a frog in slowly warming water. It could kill you unaware.

Much of the tuition industry is about helping parents and their kids game the system. Out with education and in with competitions. Exams has become an euphemism for sporting competitions but done mostly with pen and paper. My kids could never get the grades they got without tuition unless they also took the attitude that exams is a game to be won competitively.

What the minister proposed to achieve before the decade is a courageous initiative to reinvent education here. I welcome this. Today we are severely short of people who can handle much less coach others in thriving in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment. I have asked for this like twenty to thirty years ago, i.e., more or less when I started work and saw at first hand what school had failed to equip us with.

Now the devil is in the details to secure success. MOE like any large organizations thrive on processes but the way that is familiar to me for achieving this is through laborious mentoring. I can imagine that the ideas aren't new but few people know how to pull this off. Most likely we will only achieve a limited and qualified success. Perhaps the blame will be on parents who fail to change their mindsets. In this way the government can as usual play a heads I win, tails you lose game with us. I just hope that I am wrong about this possibility.

If MOE succeeds, the tuition industry would go through a huge creative destruction. Education will return to its purpose and the gaming will cease. It is just a little too hard to imagine. But if MOE is serious, they must involve the parents as mindsets would otherwise never change. If they don't that's political on who to blame if the plan fails.

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