I am sitting in a car dealership today waiting on my new battery and check up to finish. It’s interesting to see how much auto dealerships have changed over the years. 20 years ago (and maybe a few more!) I was working my first job at one as a car porter. Back then, an auto dealership consisted of a few offices, a waiting area, a cashier, and the shop in the back. The dealership I am sitting in now looks like a country club. There is a barista with free coffee. The waiting room looks more like a shared workspace than a waiting room. There are computers and free WiFi. There is even a shoeshine station. I am looking at a 60 inch TV which is curved and state of the art. There is also a fish tank which I find sort of peaceful to look at. Overall, the place is really nice!
Then it hits me. The process is still the same. I had to bring my car in and get it fixed. I chatted with the service manager then went to the waiting room. This is exactly my experience at every car dealer I’ve ever been to including the one I worked at over 20 years ago. Nothing really has changed in the auto dealer service industry. A few years back I went through the purchase process at this very dealership. I had the same challenges with silly negotiating, and the time it took! Oh my gosh, the time it took to actually purchase a car was absurd. I bought and closed on my home faster! The finance part was also very slow and tedious. There was a large amount of paper used. The entire process was very inefficient. Yet it all remains the same… well mostly…
The auto purchasing industry is being disrupted by great companies that understand the frustrations of the consumer. My wife is currently purchasing a car through one of the innovative companies. A few weeks ago I was driving home from work and hear on my Pandora station the ad about Carvana. It’s a completely online auto purchasing app/website. No waiting. No silly negotiating. No going anywhere! She purchased a car sitting at our dinner table. We even got a quote to trade in our old vehicle. We don’t even have to move from our dinner table. They deliver the car to your home! The process is fast. I don’t have to negotiate. The finance is crystal clear without any silly printers. And there was no sales person trying to rip me off.
I wonder if these car salesmen even know Carvana exists?
Then I shift my thinking to education. The industry is prime for this type of consumer driven change. As a matter of fact, it is happening. I look at the way schools look over time. The buildings have become fancier. They have better facilities. Classrooms are becoming more and more flexible learning spaces. Cafeterias are streamlined. Computers are everywhere.
The student experience hasn’t changed much.
There are still 4 to 8 periods in the day. The year is broken up into quarters and semesters. The curriculum and learning time frames have stayed the same. Kids are shuffled around all day when bells ring. The subjects are still separated. Student learning pace is dictated by all of this. Grades and test scores still dominate the value of an education.
It is interesting to see that some learning communities have evolved. I have seen it happening at the post-secondary level already. Schools like Praxis, Holberton and Lambda are testing the way college and learning after high school is done. They are listening to the consumer and building around their pain points.
High school is prime for something like what Carvana is doing to the auto industry.
I see amazing schools that are breaking the rules and producing a more valuable education. Schools like Iowa Big and Purdue Polytechnic High School. Schools without bells and walls between their curriculum. Schools like Tallgrass Sudbury School which is completely learner centered. These new consumer centered learning environments are starting to evolve and push the boundaries of education. I see amazing programs like Cleu that are learning more about the students as humans and not just test scores. Programs like these are looking deeper into the whole student through a social emotional lense. The market of education and the pain points of learners are forcing uncomfortable questions about changing the systems we have become comfortable with.
This is why it is a great time to be a part of education. We get to see the worldview change in front of us. We teach our students to be adaptable to change. We get to live the example.
I wonder if educational lawmakers even know these innovative programs exist?
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