Thursday, July 12, 2012

Flexiwork, but no flexischool?

The arrival of IT companies in India (both India and MNC) has opened to the door to a very different work culture. A lof of the IT companies let you work from time, work flexi time, sometimes across locations. Some of the more progressive ones do not even measure (or track) your attendance. Whether you come by to work or not each day is not important as long as you deliver what you are supposed to to deliver. And that sounds quite right, does it not? Why do people have to assemble at a place for working together like an industrial age factory - in which it was required because the equipment and raw material would be available only in the factory.

But today? In an age of cloud computing, BYOD, computers as powerful as anything available at ones home - do people really have to assemble and dissemble each day in order to work? Why not work and collaborate virtually? Sure, there are security concerns and the like, but other than that?

Well, the future is work is at home and the companies that have cracked this are reaping benefits. Those who are not are in some stage of denial, in my view.

Now think about schools. For all the flexibility we get at our workplaces, schools are notoriously stuck in the industrial age. Uniforms, fixed times, fixed timings, fixed curriculum, one size fits all -you think of it, they have it. And if you compare, many children spend about as much time at school, than your average adult spends time at work. And the adult numbers at work are coming down even as school hours are remaining constant or going up.

Is there a reason a child has to go to school each day of the week? If the child can finish off some of the work at home (with parents or extended family) why bother going to school each day? If the curriculum can be split between spending time at home and completing stuff that is prescribed, they why bother to send the child each day to physically attend school?

When we grew up (or perhaps a generation earlier) schooling was a lot more flexible while workplaces were more rigid. Today,there is flexiwork but no flexischool - sweet irony is it not?