Monday, August 19, 2013

Schools - Win/Win or Win/Lose?

I've just finished reading Stephen Covey's chapter Think Win/Win.  As I'm reading this book now through the lens of what makes a great school, I'm wondering how this applies to education.  As we go through school we are often compared to others.  Just last week I was reading about the A'Level results in the UK and how the top grades are "down" on those of last year.  In this case a whole year of students are being compared with those in a previous year.  Last year I read that "too many" students passed their GCSE English exams, so the exam boards decided to change the pass rate to keep the "right" amount of pass and fails.  Schools, it seems, do a poor job of Win/Win - exams compare a student's performance with that of everyone else's - if one student wins, another has to lose so that we don't feel that standards are slipping.  This system is focused on the extrinsic value of a person, with little recognition of the intrinsic value or of someone's potential or how they use their abilities.  Covey writes:
Competition, not cooperation, lies at the core of the educational process.  Cooperation, in fact, is usually associated with cheating.
Life, however, is often not a competition.  More often it is important to cooperate with others, and yet the Win/Lose mentality fostered in schools works against that.  This is what I'm thinking about right now:  if we know that the most positive way forward is Win/Win, how can we change schools to allow all students to win?

Photo Credit: Peter Gerdes via Compfight cc

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