By Jon Miller | Post Date: December 2, 2007 11:40 PM | Comments: 3
I learned about something called Direct Instruction in chapter seven of Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres. This book is a light and entertaining read on statistics and evidence-based decisions in marketing, education, healthcare and government policy. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in design of experiments, management by fact and the future of problem solving.
Direct Instruction is a somewhat controversial method used as part of the No Child Left Behind policy of the current U.S. government. Teachers must strictly follow a script to instruct children to read, write, do math and so forth based on a standardized approach. The teacher insists that all students in the class open to the same page, touch the words, get ready! read the words, and explain the meaning of what they read, or the significance of a comma, in unison.
Critics of Direct Instruction include teachers whose creativity has been removed from the class room, administrators who are threatened by a new way of doing education, and people who would rather manage by intuition than by the results of number crunching. People in favor include teachers who now have zero preparation time for classes, parents whose children can read, and statisticians.
This conflict sounds a lot like the typical conflict that we find in a workplace as they implement the standardized work aspect of the Toyota Production System. You no longer need creative, superstar teachers to teach the basic skills of reading and writing, just as in manufacturing a standardized and documented process finally becomes a teachable (and kaizen-able) process. This resistance to standardized work increases as we attempt to apply it to work that is perceived to be more creative or requiring more judgment.
If the statistics are to be believed, the positive impact Direct Instruction is having on the education of children in the US in a similar to the positive impact that standardized work is having on companies adopting the Toyota Production System. Both Direct Instruction and standardized work face practical challenges. But they provide a baseline for kaizen - continuous improvement - of our methods. This is so important in the education of our children that it should not be sidelined by those who have yet to understand the power of statistics.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.