Running a school is like running a restaurant

Running a school is like running a restaurant

A school leader (actually a businessman with no experience in education), explicitly tell his teachers that "running a school is like running a restaurant." Teachers and experienced school leaders at the school obviously felt very disrespected by this comment.

This post was in my LinkedIn feed this morning.

Catherine Hoke said that :

"You can't be curious and angry at the same time."

It made me really curious as to why someone would think that.

Here's what I think.

There are different types of restaurants, with different levels of service; just like schools. You have the fast food restaurant, where the focus is to get the very basics, fast and cheap. You go there because you need to eat and the interaction with customers is pretty much scripted. I am not saying that there are no committed employees working there, just that the focus of the interaction is merely to serve food, not to interact with the customer. The aim of the interaction is to carry out the transaction. With a bit of imagination, you probably don't need employees for this type of establishment. Machines could replace humans (in fact, you can already order from a machine in most McDonald's). Maybe one day too teachers will be replaced by machines too ?

The second type of restaurant is the buffet restaurant; service is minimal, there is more variety than in the fast food restaurant, the food is likely to be a bit better, but it's also more expensive. You can get a great experience from this type of restaurant if you go with your friends, because your guests and yourself create the interaction. Maybe you eat there for enjoyment more than from necessity. This is the Udemy or the Khan Academy of restaurants.

The third type of restaurant is the one we all know of. This is the normal type of restaurant, with a waiter and a chef. Your experience will vary greatly from one to another. People go there for the experience. These restaurants need to understand that in addition to serving food like the first two types of restaurants, they are in the business of providing a service as well. The food is not the end of the story, merely the beginning. Customers go there because they expect to have a great time, and they are ready to pay a bit more for this. So many of these restaurants close every year because they fail to embrace this.

The last type of restaurants that I can think of are the fine dining restaurants. The Gordon Ramsey types of restaurants, where you pay a premium, and get the best service. Everything has to be perfect, all the way. The interaction with customers is of the utmost importance; I am not saying that the customer is always right, but they are entitled to a level of service that represents the brand. In these restaurants, I'd think that the waiting staff understand clearly their role in providing the customer with the best experience, and they take it very seriously. This is how I see my job as a teacher; not just delivering a syllabus (food), but also a great student experience, Gordon Ramsey style.

I have no way to tell what type of restaurant this school leader was referring to, but like there are many types of restaurants, there are many types of school, and I don't think that I would like to work for a fast food chain.

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