Thursday, February 23, 2017

Efficiency (doing the right thing) -v- effectiveness (doing things right)

Another resource shared at the Vietnam Technology Conference at the weekend was Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon's eBook 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning.  I downloaded this and it's amazing!  Today I've been reading the first section and considering the need to change our current system of "imperfect learning".

Will and Bruce write that schools are driven by efficiencies rather than effectiveness:  efficiency is "doing things right", whereas effectiveness is "doing the right thing".  Schools have always put efficiency first, yet we know that deep learning is not best served by the systems that deliver education as efficiently as possible.  Doing things right involves students coming to a particular place at a particular time with a particular teacher with other students the same age where they all go through the same curriculum and are assessed in the same way.  Doing the right thing relies on abundant access to knowledge and information through the internet, so that we can "learn anything we want, when we want, wherever we are, with whomever we can find, in whatever way works best for us."  Effectiveness is how learning happens in the real world outside of schools.   Will and Bruce write:
It is inarguable that striving for efficiency erodes effectiveness when it comes to learning in schools.  We know that the most effective learning doesn't happen when we take children and separate them by ability, isolate the subjects we teach them, give them little choice over the what and how of learning, try to motivate them with grades, make them sit in rows, and standardize the whole process via one-size-fits-all assessments.
Doing the right thing involves creating classrooms where learning builds on passions and interests, relevance and purpose, and where learning is not constrained by time limits and subjects.   These words really spoke to me today - my heart became full.

As well as the eBook, Modern Leaners is also launching a podcast series and next month a new 8 week course and community is starting focusing on how to effect serious, sustained and relevant change in school.  The aim of Modern Learners is to build capacity of educators to lead real change. This will need time, visionary leadership and community support, but it's definitely something that I want to get involved in.

Photo Credit: Mark Brannan Flickr via Compfight cc

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