Friday, March 20, 2015

A Definition of Insanity (#SOL15, Day 20)


Imagine what you might be valuing if you required an employee to halt progress because he or she had accomplished the end goal more quickly than the other employees. This employee has produced more completed work than the others simply because he or she has been present more often and therefore worked more often.  Because you mistake sameness for quality, you require all of the employees to be no more than one day ahead or behind your schedule with regard to production.

But stuff happens that corrupts your schedule.

  1. An employee's mother becomes ill and the employee takes a two-week leave.
  2. The flu hits a family causing an employee to miss a series of work days, totaling 7 across three weeks.
  3. The production is derailed by an unforeseen internal situation and the goal accomplishment is delayed by three weeks.
  4. An employee determines a better product can be made and makes those adjustments which adds several days.
  5. And so on.

As  result of these delays, you do not abandon your scheme, but rather readjust the schedule adding another two weeks in order for the 'team' to meet the end goal together. Now, what do you do with the employee who has already met the production goals you established?

Halt the employee from moving onto the next set of goals until everyone catches up.
(And we thought Samuel Beckett's Godot was absurdest theatre.)


Most would see this scenario as idiotic, counter productive. But would you see this as amoral if we weren't talking about the product of widgets, but rather were speaking about the education of children?

I recently was listening to middle school ELA teachers discuss how one with near perfect attendance was told she could not move on to teach the next curriculum unit as her fellow teachers at her grade level had not completed the current unit because of absenteeism and lesson adjustment. The administrators require teachers to keep the same pace (within one day) so that everyone is teaching the same lesson or teaching an adjacent lesson in the Expeditionary Learning Module du jour.

Sameness is more important than actually learning.

There's so much wrong with this scenario from a human point of view that I hardly no where to begin.  Prizing sameness over quality has no place in public education. Stripping teachers of agency and reducing them to nothing more than script enactors who act as programmed regardless of who is learning and not is a recipe for failure. Mandating the use of a singular curricular product like Expeditionary Learning that was developed rapidly and whose units could not have been researched using the DOE's gold standard of randomized controlled trials.  Nonetheless these modules have been mandated by states and districts in what is like a modern day version of the emperor's new clothes. Only the brave say this product has limited teeth.

These problems emanate from shoddy leadership--leadership that has been wrought via the new education reformers. You know, the people with little practical knowledge as they quickly skipped or in some cases fully avoided actually teaching and were promoted into key leadership roles in schools and districts by external forces like governors, mayors, and the like.


I hope you want more for your children.
I hope you'll say so out loud.


  1. it is ridiculous, isn't it? and yet, I have also had this experience ---back in my classroom teacher days. so frustrating for everyone. frustrating and ridiculous.

    1. I was amazed to hear the teachers discuss this. It is crazy, especially for the kids.


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