Weeding out vs growing a seed

weeding and planting seeds

This week I had the pleasure and privilege of having a thoughtful discussion with two leaders at a local university.  We were talking about education, specifically for aviation and aerospace.

One of them, who happened to be the President of this University, made a great analogy to describe two different approaches or attitude in education.  In most large universities and colleges (and many small ones), they take a generous approach to admitting students–the more the better.  Then, once they are admitted, there is a conscious and deliberate “weeding out” process.  Most students who start as freshmen never make it to graduation.  Not in their initial plan of study, at least.

This practice isn’t exactly advertised or celebrated during the recruitment and application process. (!)

As much as I love and respect my alma mater of Purdue University, the freshman Physics class was famous (infamous, I mean) for having a 50% failure rate.  That was over 20 years ago now, so I can’t say what it’s like today.  But that course was definitely a weeding-out of the freshman class.

At this other university, the President and one of his VPs were describing how they instead take care and attention to ensure that every student they accept has a successful education and future career.  They realize not everyone enters college with an ideal or happy background.  But people still have the seeds of potential and ability within them.  Sometimes they just need the right environment, culture, and education to sprout that hidden ability and nurture it into productive growth.

The President made the additional point that seeds can sit dry and dormant on a shelf for years.  But put them in the right environment, and you will see the growth happen, almost by magic.

I believe these same two approaches can be found in management styles.  And in company cultures too.

Perhaps there is a time and place for both.  But most important, it’s vital to know what type of environment you are putting yourself info.

Are you in a system or organization that aims to do the weeding out of people who are there?  To get rid of everyone possible until only the best survive standing?  Or one that is designed to grow the seed of goodness and potential from everyone?

Weeding out or growing the seed.  I thanked the President for this analogy, because I think it’s a fantastic way for a person to assess what type of education or culture is around them.  Including those who want to become successful rocket scientists!

If you are curious what university these people are associated with–and more important, if you want to pursue a career in the aviation field–check out Hallmark University in San Antonio, Texas.  They produce more certified aviation technicians than other single college or university in the state.  And it’s done without the weeding out that you’ll probably have to experience in most other schools.

About Brett Rocket Scientist

Brett creates artful work in engineering, ideas, and innovation. In addition to 2 degrees, 3 patents, and over 15 years experience in aerospace engineering, he is the author of several books to foster STEM careers. He volunteers his time and skills as an officer with professional societies.

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