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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I go back to Kindergarten.

Friday was “Kindergarten Round-Up” for my 4-year old, where he and his parents began the indoctrination process into the elementary school system. It was our shared first experience in what will be decades worth of education services.

Education is a different kind of service experience, but one of the most important that we ever have.

It is also one of the most complex, requiring vast input of time, effort and money on the part of the student / customer. It demands inputs of outside parties and influencers. Much of the experience is unsupervised. The extremes of time, input and intangibility make it very difficult to evaluate success, a fact at least partially borne out through our national 'dialogue' on education.

As first experiences go, the result was mixed.

Most importantly, my son loved it – he learned something, had fun, got familiar with surroundings, met stewards of his education experience / the authority figures he’ll be involved with in a very short time, and came away unbeliveably excited about returning in a short 5 months.

As for me? I filled out forms. Forms I could have filled out online, during time that didn’t have such a premium on it.

First experiences are the best time to establish expectations. In this case: What we should each expect of the education experience. What the student’s role is. What the parent’s role is in making the student and teacher effective. How the co-production process works.

If an institution took the encounter as what it was, a critical first service experience where at least a year and as much as decades of expectations could be established, how differently would they approach it?

I’ve often heard teachers express frustration feeling that parents aren’t involved enough in the education process, don’t commit enough of themselves and act as though it is the educational system’s job to do parenting. The opportunity to properly set role expectations came and was missed while I was transcribing various personal identification numbers.

The most important service experience – that of making a child student comfortable and confident in their future education surroundings, was carried off exceptionally well.

That said, major opportunities were missed in setting expectations and enlisting the active early support of a key co-producer, the parent.

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