Don’t Blame The Teacher!

Here’s a link to an interesting article in the Bangor Daily News:

Moving Beyond ‘Blame The Teacher’

Much as I enjoyed the article, I also ended up frustrated because–try as I might–I could not post a comment! Reading the comments already there made me want to add:

One caution is that we not move from blaming the teachers to blaming the parents. To do so would be to miss the point of the article. You can bet that the schools cited here did far more than is reported in this article. Ultimately, the ENTIRE system was affected. The article perhaps didn’t go quite far enough in describing this. One sentence that needs changing:

“In education as in industry, progress toward quality will require collaboration among administrators, teachers and their unions, the parents and the students themselves.”

Of course Demings wasn’t the only “guru” promoting this thinking, but there was a simple elegance to his approach. The approach forced us to stop finding people to blame and look at the systems those people are working under. Very often those systems punish the very behavior and outcomes being sought and reward the undesired ones.

I was a practicing systems organization development consultant during those years and can attest to the success of the approach. Organizations with red bottom lines were in crisis and desperate for a fix. Those who saw beyond blaming often achieved incredible turnarounds. The need to make a profit can be incredibly motivating.

We might start wondering when we face a similar crisis and the need to teach and develop our kids becomes similarly motivating.

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