Revising the concepts

This week has brought to light 2 posts that accelerate the shifting landscape that is our preconception about success. Deborah Mills-Scofield posted this piece on the HBR blog network assessing the differences between output and outcome. Although this article is from last November I came upon it a few days before Arianna Huffington posted this on the Third Metric. For me, both articles are clearly part of the growing narrative that is reassessing what we value most from our personal and professional lives and both have huge implications for how we continue to develop our approach to education. It also gives a sharper focus to the development of Education for Social Responsibility.

Third Metric principle proposes measuring success through well-being and life balance and is defined by The Huffington Post thus:

The current, male-dominated model of success — which equates success with burnout, sleep deprivation, and driving ourselves into the ground — isn’t working for women, and it’s not working for men, either. On June 6, Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski hosted a conference called “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power,” bringing together women — and a few good men — to focus on redefining success to include well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder and our ability to make a difference in the world…and how we can chart a course to a new, more humane, more sustainable definition of success — for women and for men.

ESR places well-being at the top of 6 elements that will enable schools to reassess their approach to curriculum development and school management. Developing effective pedagogy in the rapidly changing world requires, first and foremost, young people who understand, and take seriously, their personal health – as well as that of their family, friends – and their relationship with the world around them. ESR goes on to allow schools to consider how they promote the development of Rights, Responsibilities, Intelligent Behaviours and Knowledge and what Opportunities members of the community have to realise this development.

It is these last 3 (Intelligent Behaviours, Knowledge and Opportunities) that resonate with the discussion on Output v Outcomes. As Deborah Mills-Scofield states:

We all can see where focusing on outputs got us: In education we’ve focused on test results (outputs) and ended up with some high-scoring kids who don’t know how to apply what they’ve learned to the world at large (outcome), like how the reasons leading to the American Revolution are similar to those that led to the Arab Spring. We have a plethora of apps for our smartphones and tablets (output), but how many do we consistently use—and how many actually improve our lives (outcome)?

This ‘usefulness’ of a relevant education is central to ESR, and the ‘ability to make a difference in the world’ is a key outcome. It is fascinating to explore just how the Third Metric and a true definition of ‘outcome’ can be relevant to our concept of education. I know, as a prep school head, that the metrics that we too often look for is the measurable success of exam results. However, it is clear that happy, engaged children who make the transition to senior school ready to embrace all it has to offer, including the academic challenges, are the metrics that guide the decisions of many parents. Perhaps the Third Metric – or something very much like it – has always been embedded in an effective education and now the debate has reached the point at which we can all consider it more seriously.

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