‘Schools are efficient, but are they effective?’ This phrase has been going through my head a lot recently and, funnily enough, I am hearing it used in many different contexts.
For example, while listening to one of my favourite podcasts, The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright, I heard an interview with Dr. Mintzberg speaking about what he calls a collection of treatments that masquerade as the Canadian health care system (or what some call sickness care system). During the interview, Dr. Mintzberg mentioned that hospitals should be more effective and less efficient. Listen to the except I have included below (I recommend listening to the whole interview here if you have the time: Medicine is a calling, not a business: Henry Mintzberg)
As you can hear, he looks upon professions like health and education as needing different types of metrics than those more commonly used in businesses. Our goals, he says, are different. The bottom line in a hospital or school are health and learning, respectively, not profit.
Schools have got caught up in the growth model and, I believe, being too big has significant drawbacks. It forces the institution to become more efficient at the expense of being effective. Every school I have worked at that has expanded the number of classes to ‘reduce class size’ inevitably sees the recently added classes swell to 24 or more students. That threshold, I believe, forces the classes to a point where we are managing curriculum often at the expense of engaging and empowering learning.
The institution of school has become quite efficient in keeping students in classrooms for 7 to 8 hours a day. My question is how effective is this model for each and every student? Do we, as educators, really know how effective our methods are beyond the test scores and report card grades? Is there a way to measure personal fulfillment?
Image credit: Inside airplane CC0 Pixabay