SMT007 Magazine

SMT-Apr2016

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58 SMT Magazine • April 2016 where he becomes that brother, allowing Ernest to act out a much more wild and libertine exis- tence. The character's attempt to deceive provides Oscar Wilde with a vehicle to comment on some serious, hypocritical aspects of Victorian Eng- lish life, using Wilde's ability for double mean- ing word play to address serious societal issues. Throughout history, whether in newspapers or works of fiction or non-fiction, writers have been able to promote certain positions and per- suade their readership around to their way of thinking. Oscar Wilde does this in a subtler way than the biting satire of Voltaire in Candide and the irreverent poking at the hypocrisy done by Moliere in Tartuffe. These techniques were once taught in schools as a formal class called Rhetoric, which relates to the skills of debate, argument and per- suasion. Today, the word rhetoric is mostly used in a pejorative sense, meaning language that is meant to persuade, but lacks sincerity and meaningful content. What does all this have to do with high-tech electronic product manufacturing in 2016? In 1895, Wilde, who had a reputation for his clev- er word play, used a pun (Ernest and earnest), to make a larger social comment. For decades, members of the academic world have played with the word education. They decided what should be taught in the primary and secondary parts of a student's educational pipeline. They designed the metrics used to evaluate the stu- dents' success in learning. If the student pro- ceeds to the post-secondary (college) level, he again encounters a traditional university curric- ulum, with perhaps some minimal input from the real world. In any case, the course content, which Mor- timer Adler would call academic "learning for learning," needs to be balanced with what he terms academic learning for earning. While rich in what academia feels is significant to the stu- dent and is quite important, traditional content is light on the elements that students require to optimize their contribution to the success of the companies that ultimately employ them. Un- fortunately, it takes two to three years to change a college curriculum for an industry that itself changes at light speed. Currently, the task of closing the skill gap between academic preparation and industry need has been left to the company that hires the graduate. Besides, how dare we challenge the man in the high castle [1] —I mean the man in the ivory tower—who, by the way, most probably has never set foot in a high-volume electronic product assembly factory. And, of course, there is little push back from the stu- dents who certainly don't know the value of the education they are receiving and the way they receive it. It's the man behind the curtain, the great and powerful Oz, who decades ago made these decisions. There has been little push back from industry, since they are reconciled to con- tinue the way it always has been. Unlike Wilde, however, who wrote and played with Earnest over a period of about a year, we in product assembly have played with the word "education" for more than 50 years. Henry Ford tapped into the growing wealth of a growing middle class and met them half way by reducing the cost of automobiles through the economies of scale for the material and by as- sembly line cost reductions for the labor. The post-WWII consumer electronics world explod- ed with new products that had electronics cir- cuit boards at their core. Education went from teaching how to put wheels on axles, to putting components on circuit boards. In our world today we use the term educa- tion to suggest a process leading to excellence and success in high-tech product manufactur- ing. While not consciously attempting to de- ceive, haven't the results of our efforts exposed the shortcomings of our misguided efforts? We ThE imPorTancE of bEinG EarnEsT (EducaTEd) " Today, the word rhetoric is mostly used in a pejorative sense, meaning language that is meant to persuade, but lacks sincerity and meaningful content. "

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