Recently, I read an article regarding Performance Funding for many of our Nation’s K-12 Schools and Community Colleges. One continues to read that during a time of financial limitations we need to hold the “Systems” accountable. Accountability is a benchmark for success. In addition a practice of fiscal prudence has always been important as the finite resources we have allocated toward learning have been limited.
The term Accountability, in most cases, equates to some form of measurement regarding a learner’s performance. In “short” what has the learner – learned and how much did it cost? Shortly, after WWII an American by the last name of Deming assisted the Japanese Government in rebuilding their public and private agencies. Today, Deming is revered as a key in rebuilding the Japanese Economy. The key components of Deming’s teachings were process, measurement and performance.
In the late 1960’s the United States Government selected a total of fifty K-12 American Educators to “remake” our school systems. The fifty educators selected came from various geographic regions throughout the country as well as a multitude of disciplines. In a very competitive process I was one of the fifty selected receiving a year and a half of Graduate school with fees and living expenses paid The funding for the program was an allocation by Congress under the American Defense Education Act. The intent was to measure determined outcomes for both the learners and teachers. We studied topics such mathematics, measurement, PERT Charting, Functional Flow Block Diagrams, Performance Requirements etc. During that time I remember being in a meeting with group of visiting Japanese Scholars that came to the States to meet with “our group”. In our conversation one of the visiting Japanese Scholar’s asked, why are you doing this? He stated, “ we came here to learn how you encourage learners to be imaginative, creative and innovative The American Educational System and teachers have always excelled in those areas. We know how to measure things.”
Accountability, cost effectiveness and performance are important but let us not lose sight on what we do well.
In this Autobiographical Notes, Albert Einstein writes, “ it is, in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of Inquiry.”
As it has always been, it is up to us. All of us.