More vs. Better

Seth Godin has written a wonderfully concise blog post entitled “Doing More vs. Doing Better” in which he suggests that, rather than asking people to do more,  “the most important and difficult form of management (verging on leadership) is to encourage people to do better.”  (Read Godin’s post HERE.)

Godin’s point about leadership relates well to a conversation about leveraging technology, too. When tech tools make our lives easier – when technology helps us to be more productive, more efficient, better – then I’m all in favor of adoption and implementation.

IF, however, embracing technology feels instead like “one more thing we have to do” in order to meet management’s expectations here at school, then I’m skeptical about whether additional requirements are worth trade-offs in terms of time and faculty morale.

I’m willing to work through “growing pains” related to technology implementation rather than pass judgment on “more vs. better” in a blink…


About Dr. Ostroff

Head of Upper School at The Emery/Weiner School in Houston, TX
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3 Responses to More vs. Better

  1. DaveOstroff says:

    I appreciate you for sharing your thoughts, Chris – thanks! I would push back against one of your ideas: I’m coming around to the notion that “the ends of education” have changed significantly and are continuing to change at a faster and faster pace moving forward.

    For example, I would suggest that acquiring content knowledge (via listening to a lecture and taking notes, perhaps) is much less significant today than ever – Internet search has democratized the gathering of content knowledge… facts and details are easily accessible to students online in ways that ‘trump’ the capacity of even the most seasoned lecturer to deliver. I’d go even a step further and say that if we teachers insist on seeing ourselves as ‘deliverers of content’, then we run the increasing risk of becoming irrelevant to students who can access info ‘just-in-time’ to solve whatever problem is placed in front of them.

    Another example of my growing sense that “the ends of education” are changing comes from what business leaders tell us they expect potential employees to be able to do: think critically and creatively; collaborate in project teams to solve problems, and communicate effectively in a variety of media. At Parish we call these “the 4 C’s” – I’d suggest they represent a building wave of change collectively labeled ’21st century skills’… the sorts of skills that are in-demand for increasing productivity in a world shaped by emerging, transformative (aka web2.0) technologies that facilitate communication and collaboration in powerful, provocative new ways.

    I’m suggesting that we have to acknowledge these new realities and do what we do better – rather than seeing our responsibility to prepare students as an additional obligation that teachers must take on… too often, our ‘leaders’ merely add more (more expectations, more work) onto our plates – rather than encouraging us to adopt a growth mindset that asks “How can I engage in a process of continual improvement?”

  2. Chris S says:

    You’re right, Dave–technology is always a means, never an end. I would add, too, that the confusion of means and ends is not only inconvenient but also dangerous and delusional. Our most important goals–the ends of education–haven’t changed substantively in three thousand years: we’re just adding footnotes to Plato, as Whitehead is supposed to have said. Against this background, the question of which technological tools I use to achieve those ends is an insignificant one; and if I spend significant time focusing on this insignificant question, I run the danger of losing sight of my purpose as an educator.

  3. A. Cohen says:

    For me, the question inherent in this to subject is how one decides what tech makes us better and what becomes that one more thing. I feel that it should be up to the individual (educator) to decide what is of the greatest use to them. Many times I see another indiviudal using tech tools in a fashion that I could never see working for myself or that I simply do not have the time to master the needed learning curve.

    In short, I would really prefer not to be told (or “encouraged”) to use certain tech tools in my classes. I would rather be given free reign to determine for myself and my classes what is the most effective method to convey the subject content of my class and the necessary experiential learning that accompanies it.

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