Education is only a part of cultural change

Firstly, an apology for being away for so long. I have been tied up with doing field interviews for my doctoral research and along with transcribing those interviews I have been otherwise distracted. I hope to post more regularly in the future as I manage my time better :-).

I have developed a small post today discussing the linkage between culture change and education. I would be interested in your views. Do you think education is the first step, the only step or part of a series of steps that lead towards cultural change?

Today’s topic come about as I was recently involved in a number of conversations within the organisation I work for, where other stakeholders have sought to have their program or part of their program inserted into the initial training of our employees. The program manager felt that it would be more appropriate if an awareness of the program was introduced during initial training, as the program had a focus on changing the employees approach to certain matters, i.e. a cultural change was required.

I can understand why they approached our area because as with most large government based organisations it is considered that the best way to manage any change in culture is through initial training, or what I like to call indoctrination (probably a little sarcastically). So, on one occasion it was interesting to see one of our educational co-ordinators push back a little and advise the other manager that if it does not have an educational outcome that can be measured in terms other than a change in culture, perhaps initial training is not the best place to introduce a program. It was suggested that educational outcomes should be clearly defined before the program was included in the training.

This, I must say, was one of the first times I have ever heard this said, and I was really glad to be present when it was said. Because I firmly believe that education is only part of a change in culture, and that occupational educational institutions like the one I work in (a police academy) often confuse education and culture development. In this regard, I have seen over my 28 years involvement in the policing profession a number of, what would be best called informational programs, included in initial training. Often, this meant sacrificing another part of the program, or reducing another part of the program. And more often than not, the rationale for inclusion is that it is a hot topic, or current hot political issue. And, after a short period of time the urgency for this “education” has dissipated and we as educators are often left with non-relevant subjects in our training program.

I wonder if anyone reading this post has experienced the same. This could be through your work, university education, or some other location. Please let me know in the comments box, also let me know what your opinion is on the relevance of including cultural change programs into formal educational programs.

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