“What is a system? A system is a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. A system must have an aim. Without an aim, there is no system. The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system. The aim must include plans for the future. The aim is a value judgment.
The first step is clarification: everyone in the organization must understand the aim of the system, and how to direct (their) efforts toward it.
A system cannot understand itself.
Responsible for the quotes above, Dr Deming (1900-1993) seems to be undergoing something of a revival in the blogosphere at the moment and after viewing several of his videos, I can see why (you do need to give the videos a little time, they feel very dated but the advice is sage). Please read his wikipedia page before viewing – ‘A Theory of a System for Educators and Managers‘ and ‘Five Management Diseases’ - below.
Hat tip: @suifaijohnmak for these videos
THE BIG PICTURE view of what our education systems must do to revitalise is what we are missing at the moment. We need vision and leadership and a narrative that resounds.
The horizon needs a beacon!
The Melbourne Declaration (note how few of the education ministers who signed the document in 2008 remain or their senior bureaucrats) does talk about civil society but learning how to learn needs to stride to centre stage if each student, growing into citizenship, is to participate in growing our democracy and solving the challenges that feel more today than tomorrow.
Which leaders are talking about learning how to learn as the central aim of the education system?
Dr Deming and Dr Russell Ackoff make several sage points that we all need to consider, especially the most senior political and educational leaders responsible for lighting the way:
1. “Management’s job. It is management’s job to direct the efforts of all components toward the aim of the system.” What is the aim of the system? Do we want to ‘produce a group of people who have been thinking in a way we have been thinking for years’? How can we design a system that equips students (and their teachers) with the ability to ‘learn how to learn‘?
2. If the education system was destroyed last night…what would you do? The point being made, if we do not know what should be done starting from scratch, how can we improve when such freedom does not exist?
3. The comment about ‘institutionalising dysfunctionality’ resounds with many, especially in regards to our systems, across the western world, of pen and paper exams that test knowledge regurgitation. More of the same is not the answer.
If the education system was destroyed last night…what would you do?