I recently read about a model for school called the “Expanded 7-S Model.”  This model includes seven different “S” words (hopefully not too shocking, right?) that describe different attributes of a complex organization’s methods, culture, and operations.  These seven “S” words are: Strategy, Systems, Staff, Style, Skills, Structure, and Shared Values.  I’ve thought a bit about my school life in respect to these seven items and tried to decide whether my whether or not these “S”s are aligned, pulling me in the same direction or different directions.

If I could describe the overall strategy of my schooling, it would be to create a well-rounded but capable and marketable individual by requiring certain curriculum as part of the process to obtain a degree.  The systems in place at school certainly help toward this end.  The staff, or people, include students, professors, and support staff.  Support staff has a function to help both students and professors.  At times the two conflict, causing some friction.  Professors have dual purposes, including teaching and researching.  One interesting thing to notice about students is that we, in a way, are disincentivized from helping each other succede.  We compete for some of the same jobs and also compete for grades within the class (when class is graded on a curve, helping others also means bringing yourself closer to the mean [if you happen to be above-average]).

Shared Values are fairly strong at BYU, but different professors certainly have different approaches, some focusing more on theory and intellectual pursuits while others focus on more technical and directly applied learning (and yet others manage a balance of all these styles).

Skills are interesting because the end goal of an education includes not only being well-rounded, but also becoming employable–being of value to someone else.  Often the things employers look for are different or missing from what is learned from school, and must be picked up elsewhere (internships are highly recommended by the teachers and placement advisors to help with this).

All in all, there are different goals going on all at the same time–sometimes the focus is on students, sometimes the focus is on making the university more recognized for its excellence, and yet other times it means going against the expectations of society to represent the Church well.  Many students, like myself, feel the different pulls as we balance work and school and look at an upcoming graduation and full-time position.  We feel the different pulls from what school wants us to do and become and what our employers need from us and the skills they desire us to have.  The learning style in place sometimes creates unnecessary conflicts between these two things.