Run away from “top-down, one-size-fits-all”

Michael Bloomberg wrote a wonderful piece entitled Why Cities are the Key to Fighting Climate Change. The article focuses on why local government–specifically, urban populations–is the least fragile way to solve 21st century problems. Money quote:

Nations and cities that fail to prepare for the urban population explosion risk creating, or worsening, slum conditions that frighten investors, perpetuate a permanent underclass, and impede national progress. The best way to prepare is not by implementing top-down, one-size-fits-all centralized programs but by empowering cities themselves to solve problems, invest in their futures, and harness the potential of their residents.

How does this apply to education? By avoiding “top-down, one-size-fits all centralized programs,” and empowering districts and counties to solve problems on their own, we can avoid fragility within the systems that support student learning.

  • Interventions should not be accomplished through Systems (notice the capital “S”) but rather embedded within instruction and assessment.
  • Lesson plans must be nimble and able to change minute by minute.
  • The quality of the teacher in the classroom is the most important factor regarding student learning. Instead of spending money on consultants, technology, and intricate top-down programs, seek smart individuals who know how to teach and pay them well.
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