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Guest Thinkers

Good is the enemy of great

As Jim Collins has noted, good is the enemy of great. In other words, organizations that are viewed internally or externally as being good rarely have any incentive to do something different, maybe even something that might make them move toward being great.

As the latest Phi Delta Kappa / Gallup poll indicates for the umpteenth year in a row, the majority of Americans believe that their local schools are good. Moreover, Americans believe that the top problems facing public schools are lack of funding, overcrowding, and lack of discipline. They also believe that any problems that exist with public education are due more to general societal problems than to the performance of local schools.

The concern that schools are failing to adequately prepare students for their technology-suffused futures is represented nowhere in the poll. PDK / Gallup didn’t ask any questions related to this issue and the participants themselves didn’t raise it as one of the top problems facing public schools.

  • When are we going to start paying attention to the issue of preparing children adequately for their future?
  • What will it take to create a critical mass of Americans that believes that what schools  currently are doing is insufficient (and, arguably, largely irrelevant) for our nation’s future needs?
  • When will Americans begain basing their beliefs about whether or not schools are good (or even adequate or relevant) on whether or not children are learning 21st-century skills?
  • How would Americans respond if asked whether or not schools were preparing children adequately to participate in a technology-suffused society?
  • I’m not an alarmist, but it’s pretty obvious that right now Americans seem satisfied with the status quo while other nations are making strategic technology-related investments in their societal and educational infrastructures.

    Good is the enemy of great, but perceived good may be the enemy of relevance. Dare I say that Americans are complacent? Or are we just uninformed?


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