Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reincarnation of the Efficiency Movement is Here!


"U.S. schooling may be on a historic glide path toward lower per-pupil resources and significant labor-force reductions. If not thoughtfully considered, budget-balancing decisions could damage learning opportunities for schoolchildren."

"School productivity, measured as educational outcomes divided by labor or financial inputs, has declined dramatically."

"If the entire public-education system could be rendered more productive, that is, if higher levels of achievement could be coaxed from existing resource levels, some of the pain could be avoided or at least mitigated."
  Public Schools and Money  By James Guthrie and Elizabeth A. Ettema 

While the language may be modernized and centered around a high-tech, global economy, when you wipe the lipstick off this pig, we're hurtled back to 1911 and reliving the age of the efficiency movement. Why is that bad you ask? Because it's what led to an entrenched factory-model of K-12 schooling we're living with today that's not only an abhorrent to the entire concept of learning, but  costs continue to rise as a result. Pretty much everything that is wrong with education today can be directly linked to the time-bound, graded-school model we continue to chain ourselves. We don't need more efficiency, we need less. We need an education system that is not modeled after Henry Ford's assembly lines but instead is messy, chaotic, personalized, focused on competency, and respectful of the fact that learning can (and does) occur anytime, anywhere, anyhow. It does not require a square box with twenty-five seats in rows and one adult standing in the front of the room.

What came out of the end of the early Ford factory was not creative nor personalized. Ford provided one model and you could only get it in black or black. It was fairly easy to measure costs related to outputs when that's all you produced. 

If we want our schools to be efficient, please choose your color: We have black -- or black.  And anything that doesn't come off the line on time in perfect condition at the cheapest possible cost is simply just a reject.


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