Sunday, March 27, 2011
Brand U Part II
I've got some other things to add to Pancho's eloquent indictment of the university's embrace of the corporate model. If you look at what employers want, "image" is not among the skills they are looking for. Most interesting, employers list as a prospective employee's most important skill the ability to "Communicate," defined as "the ability to listen, write and speak effectively." The second most desirable skill sought by employers is the ability to analyze and research, or the "ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and idenfity key issues that need to be addressed." Other desirable skills include computer/technical literacy, flexibility/adaptability/managing multiple priorities, interpersonal abilities, and leadership/management skills. Perhaps most salient to this discussion, "image" is not on this list. See the following website for the full list of skills: http://www.quintcareers.com/job_skills_values.html. Since "image" is absent from the list of skills an employer wants, what does our university's focus on "image" mean? Do we want our students to believe they can suceed without demonstrating any of the substantive job skills that employers want? Do we think employers are so stupid that they will not notice that a prospective employee has none of the qualifications they are seeking? Will a good stage presence or "image" overcome an applicant's lack of preparation? her/his lack or verbal or written skills? her/his inability to think critically? In addition, if an applicant lacks communication and analytical skills, how can that person come across as polished? Finally, the skills that are most desirable to employers are the very skills that the humanities and social sciences emphasize. The development of analytical and communication skills is the cornerstone of a liberal arts education. In their fealty to the corporate model, our university seems to be in the process of weakening the programs that provide our students with the knowledge and skills to succeed after college. The university's belief in the importance of "entrepreneurship" underpinned by "image" reveals either a stunning lack of understanding of the world outside Chicago State, or a deep and troubling cynicism about our student's abilities--a cynicism that can't be articulated but that can be detected in the desire of the school to sponsor programs that will essentially turn our graduates into con artists.