Risk, Reward, Opportunity Costs, and Time

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A data-related post:

I know a principal who is currently working about 100 hours a week. Her teachers have crazy workloads, too. She knows those teachers are squandering time on data and google docs that do not produce nearly enough educational benefit for the time they demand. She knows those google docs form a large part of the reason for her crippling, staff turnover. But administrators above her are demanding the documentation and they react suspiciously when she suggests all that documentation may not be a good idea. The mantra seems to be that anyone who “cares about the kids” will not hesitate to work, work, work in pursuit of the greater good. But what is the greater good?

When do we stop to think?

I offer this cross-post because I believe it addresses one of the many invisible elephants impacting education today. We do, do, do. We far too seldom get to ask, “What’s the good of this?” Teachers will never have a forty-hour workweek, something the public frequently does not grasp. Whether we have a fifty- sixty- or one-hundred-hour, work week, though, I believe it’s time to shove opportunity costs into the spotlight. What could teachers be doing instead of making all those useless or semi-useless spreadsheets that sometimes no one even looks at?

Eduhonesty: Teachers today often lament the fact that their administrations do not seem to be listening to them. I’d like to suggest a possible reason for that lack of attention. Could it be those administrators know their teachers are right, know the pursuit of excessive data has become injurious to education, but are too afraid for their own jobs to show the courage of their convictions?

The scariest part of the current educational climate for me is the fact that I believe we are smart enough to see the flaws in rampant, excessive efforts toward “data-driven instruction.” I am afraid that teachers and school administrators have become too scared for their jobs to speak out about this time-sucking diversion. Just because gathering copious quantities of data is the harder path, that in no way makes that data-gathering the better path.

This Nepalese Proverb is Absolutely Wrong