On 31 Jul 96 at 7:13, Rol Fessenden wrote:
> Replying to LO8707 --
> Robert points out an interesting paradox in eduction that I have
> been wondering about for some time.
My sense is that educational systems are THE most complex systems on the
planet, full of paradoxical behaviour, and dinosaur like in their nature.
At this point in time, school systems have not adapted well, or changed
sufficiently to meet the diverse needs of the population. This is an
unfortunate legacy which has yielded an utter lack of consensus about even
what schools are for.
> Without intending to criticize anyone, I know many educators who on
> the one hand want to celebrate the individual, on the other hand,
> want everyone to go through the same (untracked) classes, and
> finally want kids to meet minimal standards.
The explanation is fairly simple. Every educational decision has some
forseeable postive and negative outcomes (in different realms). Every
educational decision also unforseeable consequences. One can support the
notion of maximizing potential (the individual focus) while at the same
time supporting untracked classes because of the negative effects of
My guess is that when a system encounters these unsolvable dilemnas, the
system is trying to achieve too much.
> I think the paradox springs from lack of clarity of what it is we
> are measuring in each case. Certainly there are skills for which
> every student should meet minimum standards. If we achieved that
> goal, then as Robert says we would reduce variability in students.
> Deming would be proud, by the way.
I think generally the issue is not what we are measuring, but what we
OUGHT to be measuring....what is important to achieve? I don't see
consensus on this issue.
> On the other hand, when we talk about celebrating the individual,
> generally we are talking about encouraging creativity.
Not necessarily. Some of the debate in education is with respect to
dumbing down, and slowing the able students due to the presence of the
less able. That has little to do with creativity.
> We don't
> know how to measure that, and we don't know what it is.
There are certainly ways to measure creativity...whether the measures are
valid or not is an issue I can't comment on.
> There is a great deal to Deming, but one thing for sure is that he
> expected well-defined outcomes. This is not yet a goal of all
> educators, or of all citizens. Whether it should be or not is a
> good question, and could perhaps be a rousing debate. If, however,
> that should not be a goal, then we have to ask ourselves if Deming's
> philosophy is really applicable in the educational arena, a context
> in which the goals may be distinctly different both qualitatively
> and quantitatively than in factories. --
I think a starting point would be to define the goals. Unfortunately, each
time an attempt is made to do that, there is sufficient lack of consensus
to render the results useless. I could probably generate, off the top of
my head over a hundred goals of education....
Imagine a company, let's say IBM that revised it's goals to include:
building self-esteem, protecting the environment, ensuring safe sex,
contributing to responsible behaviour, helping people read, write and
figure, and on and on. How can any organization do everything? How could
such an organization even begin to prioritize?
How could it begin to succeed?
Robert Bacal, CEO, Institute For Cooperative Communication
firstname.lastname@example.org, Located in Winnipeg,Canada.
*For articles on management, change, training,communication, etc,
visit our home page at: http://www.winnipeg.freenet.mb.ca~dbt359
"Robert Bacal" <email@example.com>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <firstname.lastname@example.org> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>