In a bid to boost their skills, students are learning to take the blame for their own mistakes and help others to do the same.
A new book by one of the world’s most popular business schools claims students are better at taking responsibility for their mistakes when it comes to the work they do.
The new book, Lean in: A New Generation of Leadership by Kaley Cuoco, says students need to take responsibility for what they do because they are often the ones who fail.
The book argues that it’s important for students to understand the difference between being “responsible” and “selfish” and to “understand that they have a role in the decision-making process”.
It also suggests that it is better to be responsible for your actions than to be selfish.
“The goal should be to get the student to feel a sense of responsibility for the actions of others, rather than a feeling of selfishness or guilt,” says author Kaley Coccia, a senior lecturer in the business studies department at Columbia Business School.
“It’s important to teach students that they need to be more responsible and take more responsibility for other people’s decisions, because they will make them worse.”
A survey of 4,000 people across the US, published by Bloomberg Businessweek, found that more than half of American students felt “responsible for everything”, and almost half said they were the one responsible for the whole school.
That attitude was also the most common feeling among those who did not identify as being in the “professional” category.
It was also a key reason why students are more likely to fail in the job market than those who are.
“There are lots of examples of students who didn’t know how to deal with stress or people who were not very skilled, which can lead to poor performance in a workplace,” says Coccias.
“This is not to say they’re not going to succeed, but it’s also not a good way to teach the student how to be successful in the workplace.”
This view has also been echoed by the US Department of Education, which says that students need more support from teachers in order to succeed.
“I think we need to teach our students that there is a role for them in the work place,” says Dr. Lisa Binder, associate director for workforce development for the US Education Department.
“They need to understand that their efforts are being used to help people and to make a difference.”
The book is a departure from previous books on leadership by leaders such as Harvard Business School’s Daniel Kahneman and Stanford University’s Daniel Gilbert, who argued that students should focus on being the “whole person” instead of focusing on the individual.
“When you look at the data, when you look in the classroom, when students are getting feedback on how they’re performing in the class, they’re really, really happy and satisfied with what they’re doing,” says Binder.
“If they’re learning the same lessons they learned in school, that’s the difference.”
It is not just students who are benefiting from the book, though.
More than 70 per cent of US students said they had noticed changes in their work ethic over the past year, according to the survey, and those students are also more likely than others to be in jobs that require a college degree.
But many of those changes were seen in the US workforce, and the book suggests that the rise in college attendance has also helped the economy.
“Students are coming back to school to get a higher degree,” says Cuoco.
“College is not a bad thing in itself, but you can make a lot of students feel like they have to go back to work after graduation, even if they’re only going to be here for a few months.
So we’ve got to be mindful of that.”
The US has one of most competitive education systems in the world, and its schools are often among the most expensive, with private colleges and universities typically charging between $50,000 and $75,000 a year.
The books focus on the rise of private schools, including the Harvard Business Review, the prestigious Ivy League business school and the New York University Stern School of Business, which is currently on the hunt for a new dean.
The authors also focus on what has been done to increase the number of students attending college over the last 20 years, and how these efforts have led to a dramatic drop in the number and cost of higher education.
“We have a very competitive environment, which means there are going to always be some things that are going on that people can’t compete on,” says Kaley’s husband, Bill.
“But in terms of quality, we’re very good, and there’s so much to learn.”