Is quality education a simple formula?

I read the following from a fine fellow school-leader on his school's web-site recently, and I find myself puzzling over it.

In this day and age, many schools incorrectly view successful education as an extremely complex process, but… the formula for a really first rate education is relatively simple: put highly qualified, caring faculty, and eager, bright youth together in a personalized setting on a bucolic campus with a robust curriculum and first rate educational facilities – and let things happen.

These are some fine ingredients for a “first-rate education.”  I certainly think that when you have highly qualified, caring faculty, and eager, bright youth, in these kinds of settings, then nice things will often happen in learning.

We can object to the statement's presumptuousness: it is only a very, very small set of schools that have all these things.  The statement can be read a bit of a logical tautology: education excellence isn't complex, it is simple when it has all or most the things that make education excellent.   The complexity of successful education is not in generating this list, but in defining “highly qualified teachers” and “robust curriculum:” the devil is in those details.

My bigger objection is the idea that, no matter what our ingredients are,  we will do fine as educational leaders if we just “let things happen.”

One Comment

  1. wackjacq said:

    Politics, socioeconomic status, and race were conveniently amiss in your fellow principal’s elegantly simple equation. But that aside, being written on the school web site, I would not expect complete candor. I do disagree with his very use of a formula as a means for constructing curricula. But if educators were to use a formula as a guiding principle, it would need to be instituted at the demand of the students and not as an necessary assumption by the educators. Simply stated, we educators must develop learning methods and topics salient to our students’ needs, and interests before deciding upon formulae suitable for educating the masses of public school students. We must look at what we take for granted in the very definition of what a school is, and does. We must examine what the essence or nature of quality learning is. To educate all students well is simply complex. ~wackjacq

    October 12, 2010

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