Sunday, April 11, 2010

Checking on the check list

A number of you have been raving about Atul Gawande's latest book "The Checklist Manifesto". In fact we had a nice chat with John Easton about it just the other day. Our friend Denis Doyle adds to the rave in this great piece:

"So too would the checklist work in education, drawing on the smartest and most effective teachers and principals, requiring them to analytically breakdown complex tasks into their simpler component parts. To simply figure out what works in what sequence would make the task worthwhile. In and of itself the checklist works no magic, creating and using it simply sets the stage for the practitioner to make his or her own magic".

Yep, Denis is right on.

i3 is about innovation, yes?

Me thinks that the Investing in Innovation program has the potential of being a revolutionary program for the way it recognizes different levels of evidence for different levels of funding. But I had to pause when I saw this in the Depart of Ed's frequently asked questions:

F-6. Question: If an applicant proposes for a Development grant a project that has not previously been tested even on a limited basis, and there are no available studies of any similar innovations, will the application fail to meet i3's standard of evidence for a Development grant?

Answer: To be eligible for a Development grant, the proposed practice, strategy, or program, or one similar to it, must have been attempted previously, albeit on a limited scale or in a limited setting, and yielded promising results warranting further study. Consequently, even if the proposed project has a rationale based on research findings or reasonable hypotheses, including related research or theories in education and other sectors, it would not qualify for a Development grant if it has not been previously tested.

This would discourage the early ideation and rapid prototyping phases that are so essential to innovation processes.

Me thinks this is not good news.