Thursday, December 18, 2014


One of the driving principles behind most manufacturing or services businesses is the concept of "duplication," the idea of replicating successful processes and practices over and over again in the name of efficiency and consistency. It's the fundamental concept, for instance, behind the assembly line. It's why Coke tastes the same wherever you buy it. It's why every Starbuck's has more or less the same look and feel.

It's not an easy thing to accomplish, this duplication, especially as a business grows. One the core questions business owners interested in growth ask themselves is, "Is this scaleable?" meaning can we continue to duplicate this as sales increase? The companies that thrive tend to be the ones that are the most rigorous about duplication which leads to obvious economic efficiencies as well as a consistent product, one that may not fully satisfy customers, but at least leaves them confident that they know what they'll get.

In fact, the operators of market leaders understand that their goal is not necessarily to be anyone's "favorite." For instance, few people would call Budweiser their favorite beer or McDonalds their favorite hamburger. That designation is usually reserved for something a little more special like a particular craft beer or the burgers made at a local hole-in-the-wall, but when the "favorites" aren't available, the market leader becomes a reliable alternative; it might not be great, but at least you know what you'll get. And while this may be a benefit to consumers, it also explains why, increasingly, American suburbs look the same wherever you go, an endless repetition of Walmarts, Exxons and Wendy's.

This is a big part of what's happening with the corporate education "reform" movement, these business people, like Bill Gates, who imagine themselves swooping in to "save" our schools. They look around and see what appears to them to be an appalling lack of efficiency. They figure that those of us who have made a career our of education must be idiots for not having figured our their secret of duplication long ago and are now setting about "fixing" things by imposing it upon us in the name of standardized tests, standardized curricula (Common Core), and standardized (scripted) teaching.

But damn it, education is not a business. Profit is not the goal. Children are not identical little blueberries that can be stirred into your ice cream according to a secret recipe. Children are fully formed human beings, each one unique, the only one of its kind to ever walk this planet. The principles of duplication do not apply here. Every successful teacher knows that what we do is a marriage of art and science, neither of which benefit from the efficiencies of manufacturing.

Artists must eschew the concept of duplication unless examining it to make an artistic point. The goal is not efficiency or consistency, but rather to create something new under the sun. Scientists are simply not doing their job if they merely repeat the experiments of the past. The goal is not efficiency or consistency, but rather to discover something new under the sun. Duplication is the enemy of the artist or the scientist, just as it is for teachers and the children in their classrooms, each one of whom represents something new under the sun.

It's something a businessman simply cannot understand as he strives to duplicate his standardized widgets from here to the moon.

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Jeff said...

Jeff here from NZ. This link is for you to view. The Corbett Report talks about why Common Core and Bill Gates must be stopped. Interesting read. If you want me to send you my research to you directly just let me know. My email is

Jeff said...

Hi Tom

Jeff here again, here is the link

Diane Streicher @ Diane Again said...