A few years ago I became interested in the question of how the Marine Corps takes average young people and turns them into really competent and effective Marines in a relatively short period of time. There are lessons there, but what I came to realize is that the broader question for education is what lessons we can draw from how the Marines have learned to create a decentralized organization (with a lot of empowerment for those on the front line, so to speak) that is nonetheless completely organized around a core mission. We haven’t figured that out yet in education. So as part of all that this week’s TIME column takes a look at 5 lessons the Marines offer schools:
Fallujah probably isn’t the first place you’d go for ideas about how to improve our schools. It was the scene of some of the toughest fighting during the Iraqi War. But the city’s successful recapture by the United States highlighted why the Marines Corps is such a respected fighting force. In that battle, as in others, 19- and 20-year-old Marines were trusted to make extraordinary split-second decisions in an environment more dangerous and confusing than most of us can imagine. Yet back home in American schools, we still haven’t figured out how to give our teaching force – whose members are college graduates, more than half of whom have advanced degrees – autonomy and accountability in a far less dynamic workplace. In school districts and state capitals, we veer between giving teachers insufficient training and oversight and giving them almost no autonomy at all.
Semper Fidelis? In education our motto could be ‘Semper Semotus’ given how insular the field remains. Not feeling insular? Then you can read the entire column at TIME free via this link.