Ranking - Selecting and Sorting LO17252

Dr. Steve Eskow (dreskow@magicnet.net)
Mon, 2 Mar 1998 10:51:23 -0500

Replying to LO17228 --

Do all questions have answers?

David asks Rol about assessment in business and education, and suggests
that assessment may be more common and more sophisticated in education.

Can apples and oranges be compared? Of course: on price, color,

How, then, do we compare "assessment" in "business," a term which covers
my neighborhood mom and pop grocery and Microsoft, with "education," which
embraces the nursery school and the research university?

Rol is willing to tackle the answers. As one who has had some experience
in both education and business, I'll comment on a few of his points,
primarily to indicate how difficult it is to deal with apples and oranges
at levels of abstration to high to permit usefulness.

>Your question is a critical one. What is similar and what is different
>between education and business? If we approach the problem as one of
>managing a factory (in either environment), then education is simpler.
>But when you recognize either environment as a complex adaptive system,
>with a lot of very confusing interactions going on, then education
>becomes far more complex, hands-down.

If this answer is saying "it all depends on how you look at it," it is
hard to quarrel with it. Otherwise I do not see how you can demonstrate
that one "complex adaptive system" is more confusing and complex than the
other. I think it could be demonstrated, for example, that the school is
easier to defend against changes in the environment, with teachers
teaching as they have always taught despite changes in the environment,
while businesses that are unwilling or unable to adapt to those changes

>One of the critical steps in our work was the recognition that while the
>'moment of truth' occurs between the teacher and the student in the

But this ain't necessarily so. The teacher says, all men are created
equal. The Eureka effect, the epiphany may occur on the walk home, or
years later--or it may never occur.

>...the "fertility" of the students' mind -- its openness to
>learning and new concepts -- is almost totally determined in the
>community and the home.

One function of the school or college is to open the student's mind to
ways of looking and feeling and being in the world that are different than
those of the home and the family. Indeed, the tradition of leaving home
for boarding school or college is in part a recognition of the need to
help the student get free of the traditions and the values he or she has

> The teacher's sensitivity to students is also a key factor.
>When you begin to try to assess these complex factors, like how do I get
>meaningful parent participation in the school and with the kid around
>learning, the assessment gets very difficult. Impossible in my
>experience, so far.

In business you don't try to assess the manager's sensitivity to
employees, or do you? Why not just assess how much English or math the
students have learned, and give them letter grades--A to F--or numer
grades, arranging them on a ranking from 0 to 100?

Complex or not, ranking is done by just about every school and college in
the world.

Which may be the problem of education in our time, not the solution.

Steve Eskow

Dr. Steve Eskow
President, The Pangaea Network
288 Stone Island Road
Enterprise, Florida 32725
Phone: 407-321-8770; Fax: 407-321-4861

Yes, it is very complex in business. But not that complex. Business
takes a little tiny segment of life and squeezes it in certain directions.
Education is mired in the depths of life.


"Dr. Steve Eskow" <dreskow@magicnet.net>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>