Why we shouldn't treat schools like factories, even if it is more cost effective...

If you have ever walked into a factory that produces a finished good from raw materials, it is frankly an
amazing process. Dating back to the early 1900's, Henry Ford
revolutionized the world and the way it manufactures goods. How could
one argue with a process that can take different materials and
products, and in one smooth motion put them together to produce a brand
new flawless product exactly identical to the previous one produced.
The assembly line process used in factories around the world is graded
on its ability to produce the same product over and over again in the
shortest amount of time possible, and for the cheapest price possible.
We are making a dire mistake by approaching public education in the
same manner.

In a factory you start with the same exact pieces before beginning the first stage of the assembly line process. In education we start with a unique child with different
characteristics than every other child. In a factory you follow the
exact same steps to put the exact same pieces together as fast and as
cheap as possible. In education we treat each child as an individual,
and we use a different set of steps to help that child no matter what
the cost, or the time involved. In a factory you are assessed by how
many identical finished products you can produce in a certain time
frame. In education we are assessed by how well we prepared our
students to be responsible, independent and lifelong learners who are
able to be successful contributing citizens in a democratic society.
Isn't it time we treat students like students, rather than treating
them like manufactured products from a factory?

With state budgets being cut on a nationwide basis, it is imperative we reach out to our policy makers to insist on continuing to fund education. As difficult as it sounds, we
need to fund education in a way it has never been funded before. We
simply need more...more teachers, more SMALLER schools, more
opportunities for students to develop their own love of learning, and
more opportunities for teachers to grow personally and professionally.
This is a battle, despite the restraints financially, that we can win.
If we approach each child as a unique and different individual, meet
every child where they currently are, give every child a part in the
process, trust every child to do what is right, and most importantly,
believe that every child can and will make a difference, we can overcome
the easy street of the assembly line.

Please respond to this post with strategies and ways you have achieved this in your classroom, school or district. We need to spread the word and provide the necessary help
and resources to change our factories into schools.

Views: 4274

Tags: agent, change, educational, future, improvement, reform, school, theory

Comment by Lidia Strong on August 4, 2010 at 12:22pm
Justin, I just want to say: "Well said". This "running schools like a business", and trying to make every teacher do exactly the same things by providing scripts, and trying to get every child to know exactly the same narrowly focused things, is a great disservice to our children, our society, and our future.
One of my school's best achieving programs in the past was a dual immersion class where our elementary school students in K through 5th grade learned a second language together, Spanish or English depending on their native language. The classes were conducted in both languages. The students had high achievement in state tests, good self-concept and behavior. These classes were disbanded, when an outside consultant said we were separating the high achieving children (I think the fact was that they were becoming high achievers because of the dual immersion class) and that we would do better on the state tests as a school if these children were spread out. They didn't say the obvious thing in my opinion, that if a dual immersion program was producing higher achievers, maybe we should offer that program to everyone in the school. Needless to say, their "solution" did not help our school (we are now one of the schools on the state's "persistently low performing" list), and in the last few years we have seen an increase in discipline problems and low motivation, which in my opinion stems from the narrow focus on Language Arts and Math because that's what is tested, to the exclusion of arts, music, and even P.E.

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