You can always count on Yogi Berra and Steven Wright to capture surprising realities. The headline is Yogi's. Steven Wright nails it when he talks about what his mechanic told him:
"I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
Both are applicable to the industry I serve -- primarily independent schools. I'm a professional objective listener -- a neutral, third party, no-horse-in-the race observer and education practitioner. My job is to make sure those families these institutions serve and seek to serve understand why they are worth what they cost, and everyone, including leaders, teachers, administrators, and board members, are on the same page about WHY THEY MATTER. I'm into building compelling evidence and evangelists to spread the word.
In an age where there is more and more educational competition than ever before, simply turning up the volume and frequency of your marketing and promotion is not the answer. There's just too much noise out there.
If you are not meeting enrollment goals, consider the strong possibility that it may well be because your product isn't good enough OR you're not doing a very good job communicating why it matters in ways your consumers care about.
Of course, it didn't used to be that way a generation ago, when all we had to do was wait for the phone to ring. Demand was high. And that's where Yogi's, "The future ain't what it used to be" comes in.
About a year ago, Zac Bailes and Gary Daynes published a paper on Linked In, Theses on the Future of Independent Education.The big takeaway for me validated my instincts on what we need to do to survive as an industry:
Independent schools are more than schools. They are non-profits. The public good has to be their battle cry, not prestige.
The deepest and most useful learning takes place in partnership between schools and the immediate communities that surround them. The research on teaching and learning makes clear that relational, hands-on, and community-based learning all have greater depth and staying power than learning confined to the classroom.
That’s why, as the authors say, “developing a robust public presence via podcasts, social media, television, the internet, community organizing, and showing up for local civic, cultural, and religious events” is critical if we want to stay relevant and useful.
Independent school leaders need to be bold enough to own this greater mission. It's a win for our schools and a win for our communities.