Philip B. Cosby in his book, Quality is Still Free, shares a funny story with implications for those at national and state levels who fund education.
Mr. Cosby, at the time of the story, worked for a company with 250,000 employees. He was the lone, full-time employee in the company’s quality program. He recounts:
I originally sent a 16-page brochure accompanied by a tape explaining the zero defects concept to every unit. The results were amazing. No one paid the slightest bit of attention.
How funny. What did Mr. Cosby learn? Instruction is personal. “It was apparent that the conversion and instruction had to be done on a unit-by-unit basis ….”
Instruction is Personal
It’s less expensive to place 300 first graders in a gym with one math teacher and a well-equipped sound system and hear her say, “Two plus two equals four.” It may be less expensive, but it most certainly is less effective.
The other side of absurdity is to have one math teacher for each one of the 300 hundred students. It maybe effective, but certainly it is at least very costly and no doubt impossible: how does one find and hire one teacher for each student in the nation?
Somewhere between these two examples is an optimal student/teacher ratio, and most certainly, it is closer to one-on-one than one-to-three hundred.
Instruction is personal. Providing the appropriate number of personnel in the eduction process is expensive precisely because instruction is personal.
Professional development – a form of instruction – is personal, too. Just as research and development is a necessary investment for many businesses and organizations, so is professional development a necessary investment in the professional lives of educators. It, too, can be expensive.
The investment in education should reflect that instruction is personal.