Do you know how absurd this statement is? We are building a plane as we fly it. What industry would approve of this? Unfortunately, all too often it’s education…
Something tells me that the businesses that we hail as successful, and that we are attempting to prepare our students to be part of, would never build a plane while flying it. I have had the opportunity to study organizations and organizational leadership and have found that the most successful have been systemic, innovative, and committed to continuous improvement through multiple measures. For instance, I highly doubt that executives at Toyota, one of the most successful car manufacture in the world, would discuss changes with their organization and say, “We are building the plane as we fly it.” (or building the car as we drive it)
I have been to countless meetings in my 13 years as an educator, and all too often (especially in the last few years) I have heard state officials describe the current assessment, curriculum or evaluation procedures with the phrase “we are building the plane as we fly it.” I’ve talked to educators in other states through social media and sure enough they’ve heard it too. Why?
Why? If those in education are experiencing such difficulties in managing the change, or even implementing the change, then why not take a step back. Why not take a bold step to the side? Then, they could take the time to ensure that an initiative is properly deployed. Just a thought. Maybe the new mantra for a year or two could be that they are taking a step back, analyzing the situation, working with small teams, or maybe even reconsider the direction based on data.
Maybe, just maybe, the reason why we are experiencing so much turbulence with the changes in education and we are always “hurrying up” is because education has become so political. Our elected officials only have so much time. So a moratorium or a pause would help us out, but certainly not those who are constantly looking at the clock, the re-election schedule, or their next political move. How has education become so intertwined with the political cycle? When did we as educators give up the control?
In reflecting on the theme of this post I am left with a few items for everyone to consider:
- What is the direction of public education in this country?
- Who owns the vision? And how long will they own it?
- Is the change we are experiencing linked to the election cycles and outcomes? How can we change this process? How can we improve it?
- Would you feel safe, no matter your occupation, if someone was building a plane why you were in it….flying?