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UTSI’s Lessons from the Lake Tackle Topics of Interest

The University of Tennessee Space Institute’s “Lessons from the Lake” luncheon seminars, which feature a new speaker and topic each month, continue to draw good crowds. March’s lecture should be no exception as Susan Carver with the Franklin County Board of Education will present an overview of the history, current state, and the future of America’s educational system titled, “How Did We Get Here, and Where Should We Be Going?”

Carver, a 33-year veteran public school educator, will discuss the function of education from the late 1800’s, when the educational system was designed to provide a liberal arts curriculum, to the trend toward vocational training for industry and academic education for those planning to enter post-secondary education at the turn of the 20th century.

“This system of differentiated public secondary schooling led to students receiving radically different educational opportunities within the same school,” says Carver.

She will raise the question, “Is it time to revise the curriculums to expect everyone to work toward common core subjects credentials in math, science, history, and English?” This proposal would delay entry into differentiated programs of vocational or college preparation until after core curriculum requirements were met. Carver suggests that this type of system would require flexibility for individual differences since some students might earn required core credentials earlier than others. “This reorganization of the public high school system would be a radical change, but is now the time?” Carver asks. She will also discuss the successes and shortcomings of today’s schools in America, and welcomes your thoughts on this.

Greg Sedrick, Professor of Industrial and Information Engineering and Chair of the Engineering Management Program at the University of Tennessee Space Institute presented February’s “Lessons from the Lake” luncheon seminar at UTSI entitled, “Lean Manufacturing/Six Sigma/TQM/Business Process Re-engineering… and lions and tigers and bears – Oh MY!”

We all know that history repeats itself and, according to Sedrick, so do management philosophies. Sedrick explained that each time a new management fashion comes out, there is an instant frenzy of popularity as word spreads about the “new technique to improve your business.”

Sedrick said that the latest trend is toward Lean Manufacturing from Six Sigma and Total Quality Management, and that all of these strategies have roots that go back to 1911 and Frederick Taylor’s book, The Principles of Scientific Management.

Sedrick emphasized that changing management strategies every few years to keep up with the latest trends is ineffective in that it confuses workers, exhibits a sense of inconsistency from the management team and can frustrate workers because they are constantly having to relearn the “right way” to do their work. So, what is the ultimate solution for success? Sedrick said that some of the most successful companies are simply incorporating new strategies into what they are already doing, rather than abandoning a working system for a new one.

Sedrick advised, before adopting a new management fashion, filter through the principles of the philosophy to see where it matches up with what is already being done and where new ideas can be added to the current work strategy.

This month’s “Lesson from the Lake” luncheon seminar is coming up on March 28 at 11:30 a.m. at the UTSI cafeteria. “Lessons from the Lake” are free to the public and lunch is available at a very reasonable price. If you plan to have lunch, please allow ample time to go through the lunch line by arriving no later than 11 a.m. Please RSVP by contacting Becky Stines at (931) 393-7276.