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I am reading a few books right now, and one of them is Phil Jackson’s, “Eleven Rings: One Soul to Success“. To say that I respect what he has done (as a coach) would be an understatement, but what I find really powerful is not what he has done, but how he has done it. As the winningest coach in NBA history (11 championships), I loved this quote:
It takes a number of critical factors to win an NBA championship, including the right mix of talent, creativity, intelligence, toughness, and, of course, luck. But if a team doesn’t have the most essential ingredient—love—none of those other factors matter.
As more businesses are seeing the importance of focusing on the human aspect of their organizations and seeing the value of people, there is a trend that seems to be happening in education to move towards turning everything into “numbers” and become “data-driven”.
So what happens when your sole focus is on numbers?
“…it’s institutionalized with No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top; teach to the test – worst possible way of teaching. But it is a disciplinary technique. Schools are designed to teach the test. You don’t have to worry about students thinking for themselves, challenging, raising questions. And you see it down to the lowest level of detail. I give a lot of talks in communities and places where people are concerned about education and I’ve had teachers come up to me and say afterwards, you know, I teach sixth grade. A little girl came up after class and said she was interested in something that came up in class, and wanted to know how to look into it. And I tell her, you can’t do it; you got to study for the test. Your future depends on it; my salary depends on it.” Noam Chomsky
When we always focus on numbers, we have kids learning about things that they don’t care about, in hopes that they will get a certain “grade” to justify our work. The problem is we lose to many kids when we focus on them as a number, instead of just focusing on them.
Data is important, but schools should always be “people-driven”. It is at the heart of what we do, and who we are.
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