Although a new idea to me, it is very clear that scientific management contributes to a large part of my life. Fredrick Winslow Taylor discusses this idea in his book The Principles of Scientific Management. He exemplifies the theories behind it and how it works through various positive examples of its use in the workplace. Taylor showcases the main principle behind scientific management in the four main duties of management (15-16):
First. They develop a science for each element of a man's work, which replaces the old rule-of-thumb method.
Second. They scientifically select and then train, teach, and develop the workman, whereas in the past he chose his own work and trained himself as best he could.
Third. They heartily cooperate with the men so as to insure all of the work being done in accordance with the principles of the science which has been developed.
Fourth. There is an almost equal division of the work and the responsibility between the management and the workmen. The management take over all work for which they are better fitted than the workmen, while in the past almost all of the work and the greater part of the responsibility were thrown upon the men.
As a Biological Sciences major one of my class requirements is to take Chemistry for two semesters. It’s evident that scientific management has played a key role in setting up and teaching the course. You can see through the four duties how this type of management has played a role.
The first of the four duties involves how the material is to be taught. The head honcho is the American Chemical Society who clearly states what information is needed to be learned by students. They are like the owner and boss of a company who determines what work needs to be done. They also create a standardized test that is given to all chemistry students at the end of the two semesters. This is their way of making sure that all students have learned the appropriate amount of material that they see fit. The next person below the ACS is the professor. It is there job to determine how they are going to teach the material so the students can learn the material and pass the ACS exam. There are many different ways of teaching material that the professors could possibly use. There are advantages and disadvantages to each so it is there job to determine which method is best. This would be the “develop a science for each element of a man's work” part of the first duty. Setting guidelines for material that needs to be learned is a crucial part of scientific management.
Although not as clear the second duty of selecting students is also shown in University chemistry. There is no test that weeds out the students who are better apt to learning chemistry, but the students who do take it tend to be better at sciences. It’s unusual for someone to take Chemistry unless their major requires it and if you’re going to be a Biology or Chemistry major to begin with you would need to take lots of science classes. This in itself makes the majority of the class people who prosper at sciences. Teachers also tend to make the first test or quiz difficult enough that those who fail or do badly drop the course. In the end you generally end up with the students who will do best in the course.
The rest of the second, third and fourth duties are shown together rather harmoniously in the chemistry classes. The cooperation between the teacher and students is constant as the professors teach the material as best as they can to the students while the students attempt to learn this material. There is time for questions so any misunderstandings are taken care of. There are also available recitations and office hours for students to have one-on-one time with the teachers. Students must work outside of class by reading and studying the material present while professors also have to do work outside of the classroom by preparing their lectures and grading assignments and tests. With this amount of work there tends to be an equal distribution between the professor who acts as the manager and the student who acts as the workman.
As a student with no job the majority of my time is taken up by classes and studying for those classes. There is clear scientific management that goes into the development and teaching in those classes to ensure the maximum learning potential of each student. Chemistry classes are a prime example, but these ideas go into my other classes as well. Scientific management thus plays a huge role in my everyday life.