Are You Being Treated Like a Child?


Everyone knows that school children need structure. It’s why lesson plans have to be so succinct and soccer practices need to be so structured. However, I’ve noticed this micromanagement mentality has spilled over into higher education. Granted, our intentions are good. We want our students to succeed, to be productive. However, in our effort to increase results or productivity, are we actually having a negative impact on both by treating our university students like children?

Here’s what I mean…

Inc. Magazine recently published an article explaining why you should stop treating employees like children if you want to improve productivity. The article cites a study that found if employees weren’t fearful of the retribution they might receive by taking a break or watching a quick video, their productivity actually increased.

The overall idea in the article was that everyone works differently and therefore produces results by different paths. Instead of micromanaging the process (i.e., sticking to the traditional 8 to 5 workday that assumes if you’re not at your desk, you’re not working), we should focus on the results.

This new mentality is already changing the way business is done. If you don’t believe me, just read anything by Seth Godin.

What does this mean for universities?

For the past few years, universities have increasingly begun to treat their students like school children, trying to contain students, making sure they’re doing their work, and boxing them into a one-size-fits-all system.

My hope is that this will spur a conversation. In light of the way business is changing, where the goal isn’t to just clock in, clock out, and go home, are we preparing university students for success in this world? Or are we still treating them like school children?

What do you think about this idea? How can universities, companies, and other organizations begin preparing people without treating them like children?