Better Questions Afford Better Solutions

There seems to be a debate over the use of standardized test results for accountability as the way to improve student achievement, and thus our education system.  Effectually, this debate is turning attention away from understanding the concrete educational experience toward the abstract measures.  No wonder teachers and children have to be incentivized to respectively teach and learn!

It seems that this debate is akin arguing whether the change in the measured distance between the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks is an effective approach for assessing the crew’s performance relative to keeping the ship afloat.  While this keeps people’s efforts on things we can readily measure—it surely keeps them busy for a while—it unfortunately turns the focus of attention away from understanding the underlying causes of the difficulty and toward the effects (things that have already happened).  Because we wish to have better results doesn’t mean we should focus on results.  For better results then the focus must be on the system of causes, the system itself!

Business Is Not the Model

Many working in business organizations, where incentives and accountability for results are normal practice argue they are measured by and accountable for results all the time.  If they don’t meet their numerical goal they are penalized or fired.  Since this is their reality the construction of the logical fallacy proceeds in concluding it then must become the teacher’s reality—if I (have to) live it so too should they.

Why is it that most people don’t like their jobs and/or really don’t like working for their boss?  Could it be that the practice of management is actually an obstacle to them actually enjoying their work?  Many business management practices are flat out wrong—they are detrimental to the human spirit.  Yet people continue to employ them widely, when it is the expression of the human spirit that is at the root of quality.

Because something is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is the proper or correct thing to do.  It is misguided to assume popular business practices are best practices and that they are everywhere applicable.  The fact that business organizations rely on the carrot-and-stick approach to managing doesn’t make it the correct or best way to manage for a quality of the work environment and to facilitate the engagement of employees.  The reformative questions should be seeking answers to how to engage others not control others!

Ask A Different Question

Because we rely on learning more than any other animal, our need to learn is as natural to the human condition as is breathing. Taking in air to breathe and taking in knowledge for understanding are equally important to the development of a human being.   Why then are we asking questions of how best to incentivized learning?  Shouldn’t the question be what are we doing that quells the natural desire and need to learn?

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