The Golden Rule in business

Friday, December 2, 2011

When Monett business leaders got together this week to discuss Monett High School's One to the World project, concern sounded not over the strategy but over what new laptop computers for students cannot do. How, they asked, do you teach young people to have a work ethic?

Others responded with an age old answer. Young people respond to what they learn at home. Model hard work, respect and responsibility at home, and children will get the message.

Adding computers to the mix will improve education, certainly. The business leaders were less concerned about new knowledge than they were about getting employees who would work.

Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann suggested a big part of lifelong learning will be to learn, unlearn and relearn. We see that now in something as simple as changing phones or television services. Equipment operates differently. The same TV stations may be in different places on competing services. Such variation will likely get worse as technology expands.

It seems almost naive to think we can teach young people to sort through an Internet search engine and go past the first 10 choices to find the truly best answer. We live in a political environment bombarding us with first impressions, encouraging knee-jerk reactions. If we can teach a generation of young people to think twice before leaping, or voting, we may have found a way out of our political morass.

Finding ways to expand wireless Internet hot spots in town becomes another new challenge. Debbie Berger, with Mocha Jo's, said having such service in a business costs around $100 a month. Without more places to tap into the potential of the new laptops, students will find themselves limited to sites like the Monett High School and McDonald's parking lots, as if they needed more reasons to congregate there. It's hard to imagine a future "American Graffiti" movie focusing on teens cruising the town for places where their laptops will work, but it could happen.

As Jack Prim from Jack Henry and Associates pointed out, soft skills for personal interaction may become even more valuable in a technological age. Education of the future thus becomes reliant on the very newest skills and the oldest, both of which may be overlooked in the rush or the competition to get higher test scores.

Education is changing while basic business needs may stay the same, employers said. They wanted the next learning wave to revisit policy as sound and as essential as the Golden Rule.