Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Bus Analogy VS. The Construction Crew Analogy in Education

Thanks to for the photo Mirari Erdoiza.
Over the last couple of years I've heard many educational leaders use an analogy of a bus to suggest how schools should function. I've always found this analogy very weak, because a bus is a terrible analogy for a learning environment. The vast majority of people on a bus simply get on or off, they are not active participants in driving the bus, nor deciding where it travels. The only person who gets to do anything on a bus is the driver. The driver gets to make all the choices -- where and when to stop and how long the stop will be. The passengers are a passive group that have no real decision making power; they can either be on board or get off -- that's it. This is not a model of a democratic process, nor the model for a positive learning community. Learners need to feel ownership and they need to be active members of what is happening. I therefore purpose that educational leaders stop talking about buses and begin talking about construction crews.

Thanks to Cindy47452 for the photo.
A construction company is a much better analogy for how a learning community should function. Each crew of the company accomplishes specific tasks, but they must be aware of the plan and collaborate with the entire company in order to have a successfully finished building. One crew shows up to pour the concrete for the foundation; another crew makes the frame of the building; still another crew puts in the plumping and the electricity; the sheet rock crew comes to hang the dry wall; and the finishing crew comes to install all the fixtures and interior work. Together they accomplish an entire building according to an architect's plan and each group contributes in their own way to the larger vision. As the building is going up, some of the crews will suggest modifications to the original plan due to the circumstances on the ground at the job site and the plan will adapt to fit reality. This is a much better analogy for a learning community.