I say this with great sarcasm before I get all the emails and comments, but left to clueless executives (thank you, Alfie Kohn) wreaking havoc on education it is bound to be mentioned.
So, if the US is #15 in Reading, 23rd in Science and 31st in Math in global PISA rankings and being being beaten by Canada and Shanghai than let’s just hire those teachers. This worked for manufacturing, you know, cheaper labor and a core competency the US lacks. We can run education into the ground just like everything else we have touched since the Japanese industrial miracle.
Let’s be honest we (because we are all in this together) just don’t get it.
The State of Indiana is promoting teacher evaluations and merit pay to improve education. This thinking surely will increase costs and make us less competitive as it has in every other industry. The same state that brought us how to screw up welfare eligibility in a billion dollar blunder was bound to lead the way in poor “business thinking” for education . . . surprised they didn’t suggest outsourcing.
Dennis Van Roekel, who is president of the National Education Association offers some reason, but lacks method. Teacher autonomy in the classroom to experiment with method offers some hope. Too many cooks in the kitchen trying to “fix” education and most of these lack knowledge of classroom experience. They need a normative experience to get perspective by spending time in a teacher’s shoes.
Management have long promoted the thinking that unions are the enemy, but unions didn’t give us the banking crisis. Misguided incentives gave us that. Who paid? The worker in jobs. Canada and Finland are successful (as Van Roekel points out) with strong unions. I like the idea that the teachers unions should step up and lead rather than fight.
Declining international scores are a function of the education system and not some witch-hunt to find bad teachers. This is a cynical approach . . . and naive. Performance is driven 95% by the system and 5% the individual, put a good teacher in a bad system and the system will eventually win. Further, thinking drives how we design systems.
The education system decline corresponds with our move to centralization of education at a national and state level with damaging programs like No Child Left Behind. We have become a nation of standardized testing and we keep getting feedback from the tests that education is in decline, which leads to more testing.
Let’s start shutting down these government education agencies and start investing in the value work . . . teaching. Or we can outsource to some country that knows what they are doing.
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Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public). His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work. Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected]. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.
I know many, many students, parents, teachers, administrators, public officials and citizens in general are frustrated with school performance, primarily because schools are not responsive to their needs.
In situations like this many favor a solution dictated by a powerful individual. But autocratic rules are not satisfying in the long run and not in the American tradition.
A democratic process responsive to all stakeholders’ needs, while time consuming and at times also frustrating, empowers individuals to participate in building communities.
As you already know, people’s mental models of what education is, how schools work, etc., have to change so we all share the same model. This can only be done over time by engaging every stakeholder in an extended conversation about education.
The best book I’ve seen about this process is Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline Field Book on Education. Systems thinking in practice, but he doesn’t tell you what to do, you have to discover for yourself and your community what is best.
Despite your disclaimer, I didn’t get the reference to Alfie Kohn. I’m reading his book ‘Punished by Rewards’ at the moment and he mentions Deming in it in an approving manner.
But, that said, thanks for the post. In Australia the federal govt. is heading down the same path: standardised tests, ranking schools, ‘finding the poor performers’ (which incidently, correlate with parental income group, but who’s going to try to fix that?), and ranking teachers!
All crazy stuff, and I look at my school where my son, in year 1 has been overwhelmed with rewards, stickers, and other treats to the extent that he now talks rewards with us: if we do what he wants he’ll give us more hugs and kisses. To do a difficult think he wants a certificate (I gave in once, much to my self-disgust in retrospect).
It seems that education has not listened to any research in recent decades (or centuries, Kohn quotes Dewey from the early 1900s that is more sensible than any politician’s educational pronouncement!)