August 24, 2004

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Changing Culture the Army Way Believe it or not, this post is on Education Policy. Don Sensing posts from personal experience on how the Army has changed since Viet Nam. (Read the comments.) My military experience consisted of three months in the Air Force Academy -- but it made me very aware of the military, especially as it improved after 1972. And I know the power of the honor code at the military academies. Now, for the education implications: #1. A clear powerful phrase communicates strategy and changes behavior better than pages of strategic plans. #2. Metrics are not antithetical to a culture of commitment, responsibility, pride and respect. #3. You've got to mean it. As we visited colleges with Tyler, I usually asked about honor codes, mostly because I had been in two institutions that took them very seriously. The USAFA and UVA. At UVA, even as a graduate student, you were subject to an honor code completely run by undergraduates. Counsel, judges, everything. They could dismiss you from school for a violation, and they did. At many of these schools, the student guide would answer, "Yeah, I think we've got one." Sometimes I'd go look, and it wasn't that much different from USAFA's or UVA's. But the institution didn't mean it. They didn't commit to it. It didn't shape the culture. Large school systems can change, but not through complex "strategic" plans. Rather, a clear, memorable, simple theme is the start. Multiple, meaningful metrics to guage improvement are necessary. And, we're going to...

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