When performing market research for a school, it is very common to interview older alumni and hear how the school should be more like when the alum was attending. Questions like: Why isn’t the school enrollment as large as when I went here? Why don’t you get more nuns/priests/brothers? Why does it cost so much more than when I went here? The school administration sighs and wishes the alums would face the realities of today.
The other thing that often happens when I am interviewing constituencies, especially parents, is they complain about directions the school is taking: Why did they change the math textbook? What’s with this silly new furniture? Why is my child watching videos instead of doing homework?
What has occurred to me is the school administrators will object about alumni living in the past, and then they themselves will continue to operate the school as in the old days – when parents assumed what the school did was appropriate and never thought to challenge curricular issues. Well, it’s a new day all around. Parents are much more savvy consumers and much more interested in even minute details about their child’s life – especially as regards education.
In focus groups I lead where these type of questions occur, and if appropriate, I explain why bouncy chairs help concentration or briefly explain the philosophy behind a flipped classroom. Almost universally, the parents ask: Why didn’t they tell us that? Or even better, say: Well, that makes sense. We can’t make changes, even seemingly simple ones, without letting the appropriate constituency (this often applies to the faculty and staff as well) know what is happening, when and why. It takes extra work and might seem “unnecessary” because certainly the administrator knows what she/he is doing, but to operate without detailed and timely communication is not facing the realities of today.