kitchen table math, the sequel: Planners & Searchers

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Planners & Searchers

Well, the rest of my day is shot, so I figured I'd get these links up quickly:

Here's Dorner on the universe:
In complex systems with many interlocking elements...the effectiveness of a measure almost always depends on the context within which the measure is pursued. A measure that produces good effects in one situation may do damage in another, and contextual dependencies mean that there are few general rules (rules that remain valid regardless of conditions surrounding them) that we can use to guide our actions. Every situation has to be considered afresh.
p. 95

At this point I'm so flabbergasted by the "financial meltdown"* that I can't even tell whether "there are few general rules" is or is not a general rule.

In any event, re: the public schools, if you want to feel like a native, pick up Easterly's book.

Then ask yourself if the natives are restless.

* quotation marks because who knows what the term for this moment will be tomorrow?


ElizabethB said...

Very interesting quote from on of the Amazon reviews of "The White Man's Burden:"

"As I read The White Man's Burden I recognized so many of the same problems that I, as a public school teacher, face dealing with bureaucracies full of Planners, who think the way to solve a problem is to come up with a big overall Scheme and throw tons of money around, usually unsuccessfully."

SteveH said...

I've seen this in engineering. The big guy (or girl) in charge decides to do something, and everyone jumps. It's usually a big, top-down solution. The money flows because it comes from the big guy, and the equipment vendors have more control than the experts working at the company. Usually, the big guy comes up through the management or sales track and not the technical track, so you know he thinks of the technical staff.

I've seen this with large Computer Integrated Manufacturing systems. Companies want to buy a full solution and there are vendors willing to say that it can be done. In reality, the change, cost, and risk are too large. A bottom up, piece-wise approach is usually better. The learning and justification curve is much smaller, and if there is a problem, it won't have a huge effect. Local expertise is valued over external forces, who probably have a different agenda.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh my gosh -- Elizabeth!

Good catch.

The whole book could be about public schools.

Speaking of which, I went to the Board meeting last night. The entire session was Planners imposing their will on teachers.

Catherine Johnson said...

Companies want to buy a full solution and there are vendors willing to say that it can be done.


apparently there are now school districts all over the country buying "formative" assessments

These aren't diagnostic norm-referenced tests. These are formative "items," etc.

Catherine Johnson said...

The book is particularly cogent on the subject of feedback.

The poor can't give feedback about whether they wanted what they were given, or whether what they were given works.

Same with kids and parents (and teachers).

I spent hours last night listening to Inputs. One person spoke about formative assessment, which will ONLY be done for the "AIS" kids (which means parents of the accelerated kids will have to keep hiring district teachers on the side).

Interestingly, that teacher was not being paid to talk about formative assessment. Everyone else has been promoted to "Teacher Learner/Facilitator" or some such. They no longer have to teach students; they teach teachers.

The very long presentation was probably mostly incomprehensible to everyone present except me, and I had a number of questions myself.

No feedback.

Catherine Johnson said...

What's become of Paul???

We need him!