Thursday, December 11, 2008

Does Education Impart Street Smarts?

When I was surfing online at Changi Airport 12 days ago, I suddenly got an email, entitled "Chen Chow Blog Article" by Kelly Kilpatrick, who wrote to me the following:-

"I'm interested in writing a guest article on your site Chen Chow in order to increase my writing profile. I'm not sure what the process is for submitting an article for your review or if you have certain requirements, but if you're at all interested I'd appreciate you getting back to me, and I can send you an article for you to consider for publication.

I'm planning on writing something related to your existing articles, but if you have something specific in mind just let me know. All I'd ask in return is a by-line with a link pointing back to my site at the bottom of the article."

This is something that I definitely never expect when I start blogging. My blog is not really popular, with just 100+ to 200+ readers a day.

Nevertheless, I respond positively to Kelly and she has responded with an article that she specially written for all of you, my blog readers. Hope that you guys would learn something from it!

Do share the feedback at comments here and also to Kelly. Thanks, Kelly!

The full article is as follow:-
Does Education Impart Street Smarts?

What’s the difference between a management graduate fresh out of college with the double advantage of having topped his class and brimming with the confidence and energy that can be attributed only to youth, and a hardened veteran in the field with no Ivy League degree to speak of but with years of experience under his belt? Experience, of course, which, no matter how good your education, is the best teacher. It’s only the most foolish of us who fail to learn valuable lessons from their mistakes, and it was a wise man who said that you don’t live long enough to make enough mistakes to learn from, so you’re a fool if you don’t learn from the mistakes of others as well.

Why then do we bother with an education, if it’s only experience that matters? Experience alone will not work without the sound foundation of a solid education to back it up, which is why the best managers and entrepreneurs are those who bring to the table the lethal combination of a quality degree and years of experience of both failures and successes that have taught them well. Some people call this “street smarts”, the ability to use instinct to make important decisions, to read people well, to play any role that’s demanded of them, to adapt to change like a chameleon, and to handle stressful situations with the flair and calm of a conductor at an concert.

Street smarts come as you grow older, as you work more years in your field, and as you gain in experience. The question most people ask is – can street smarts be taught? Can we give young go-getters the advantage that their older and wiser counterparts have through a different kind of education?

The answer is in the affirmative – yes, street smarts can be acquired through learning, by using experiential learning techniques like case studies and by using role models. Case studies simulate real world problems and test your analytic and problem-solving skills. If you had to deal with Situation A, how best would you do it? Of course, a pretend situation cannot mimic the exact nature of the real world which has various intangible and unforeseen forces acting in real time to change the consequences of your decision, so it’s all about learning to adapt constantly to rapidly changing environments. In fact, a savvy manager is one step ahead with Plan B to implement if Plan A fails, and Plan C to take over if both its predecessors bite the bullet.

As I said at the beginning of this essay, some people learn through their own experience, but the shrewd ones are those that watch others and analyze their actions to see why they fail or succeed, and then mimic the successful ones. So yes, education does impart street smarts, and if you’re smart enough, you get to move to the head of the class pretty soon.

This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of online universities . She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com.

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Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

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