Byron's Babbles

Education: Exploiting Knowledge

Posted in Education, Education Reform, Educational Leadership, Leadership, Learning Organization by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 25, 2015

2015/01/img_06402.jpg “Education will become the center of the knowledge society, and schooling its key institution.” This quote by Peter Drucker in May of 2004 has proven so true as we begin 2015. Week 4 of A Year With Peter Drucker: 52 Weeks of Coaching for Leadership Effectiveness by Joseph A. Maciariello (2014) deals with the idea that education is a key to economic development. As I was reading this week’s lesson I couldn’t help but remember what the late H. Dean Evans, former Indiana State Superintendent of Education, used to say about this related to taxes. I had the honor of working for Dr. Evans, and he would say: “The way to raise taxes is to provide great training and education and then everyone will have great jobs and be paying more taxes.” A pretty basic, but true concept. I realize, however, and he did too, that this is a very complex issue to solve.

The lesson this week started with a story about E-Veritas Trading Network in Manila, Philippines. Bottom line is this company trained knowledge workers to develop an entire electronic trading system to deliver quality and safe food to their people at a low cost they could afford (Maciariello, 2014). In other words, they created human capital within people at the bottom of the economic and social pyramid so they could develop rapidly and escape poverty. There is evidence all over the world that through education and management training, those at the lower levels of the social and economic pyramid can be lifted up. People globally can be helped to be sheltered from corruption from being involved in small-scale local economic activity.

For another example we can look to South Korea. Within 25 years after the Korean War, Korea became a highly developed country. They did this by using the universities and colleges of the United States for management education of their people. Then when their students returned home all of that knowledge was shared and assimilated into their businesses and economy (Maciariello, 2014). Maciariello argued it is much more effective and efficient to provide resources for educating present and future leaders of a developing country than providing financial aid (Maciariello, 2014).

This concept is equally true domestically in our own country. It is no secret and is widely accepted that the practice of investing in employee development is the most beneficial practice an organization can partake in. This is why the habit of continuous learning is so important. We must be teaching our students how to learn, because the practice of continual learning will be very important to their generation. It is interesting to me how education and knowledge acquisition has really jumped to the forefront of American politics. This jump has even surpassed over the importance of property and capital acquisition that dominated the Age of Capitalism.

Two questions that need to be answered for learners of all ages, whether P-16 or adult professional, are: What mix of knowledge is required for everybody? and What is “quality” in learning and teaching? Can you imagine if we could come up with these answers in a way that everyone can agree on? Interesting, many businesses and organizations have. Maybe at the P-16 level there needs to be more autonomy to evaluate what quality looks like for the students served.

I was moved by this 1993 quote from Peter Drucker: “No country, industry, or company has any ‘natural’ advantage or disadvantage. The only advantage it can possess is the ability to exploit universally available knowledge (Maciariello, 2014, p. 32). Think about how much more universally available that knowledge is today than when Drucker wrote that. Have you and your organization made learning a lifelong habit? It is never too late to start. Don’t forget the two questions that must be answered for all learners in the previous paragraph and I would add a third: How do the individuals in your organization and you yourself learn? We all learn differently so make sure to differentiate for those differences. Have a great week!


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.


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