Quality Schoolby William Glasser
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"This should be required reading by every school administator, every teacher, every board member and all university faculty involved in the training of teachers. There is no doubt that we need to squeeze all blame, all coerion and all criticism out of any people-related business. Not until we realize that schools are in a people business will we ever be able to make meaningful changes."
--Dr. Albert Mamary, former superintendent of schools, Johnson City, New York
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Read an Excerpt
Quality Education Is the Only Answer to Our School Problems
Picture the students in a required academic class at a randomly selected secondary school as a gang of street repair workers. If they were working as hard as the students do in class, half or more would be leaning on their shovels, smoking and socializing, perfectly content to let the others do the work. Of those who were working, few would be working hard, and it is likely that none would be doing high-quality work.
It is apparent, however, that students have thought about quality and have a good idea of what, in their school, is considered quality. I have talked at length to groups of high school students about this subject, and most of them see quality in athletics, music, and drama, a few see it in advanced placement academics or shop classes, but almost none see it in regular classes. While they believe they are capable of doing quality work in class, all but a very few admit that they have never done it and have no plans to do it in the future. The purpose of this book is to explain how to manage students so that a substantial majority do high quality schoolwork: Nothing less will solve the problems of our schools.
If we accept that the purpose of any organization, public or private, is to build a quality product or perform a quality service, then we must also accept that the workers in the organization must do quality work and that the job of the manager is to see that this occurs. In school, the students are the workers, and right now almost none are doing quality work in class. Those who manage in the schools-teachers who managestudents directly and administrators who manage teachers and some students are in most instances highly dedicated, humane people who have tried very hard but have yet to figure out how to manage so that students do significant amounts of quality work.
Is this problem unsolvable? Should we, as we seem to be doing, give up on the idea of many students doing quality work and instead increase the amount of low-quality work-as we do when we settle for trying to reduce the number of dropouts? But if quality education is what we need, does it make that much difference whether a student stays in school and "leans on his shovel" or drops out and "leans on his shovel"?
Or should we look for organizations in which almost all the workers are working hard and doing a quality job and try to apply to the schools what the managers in these places are doing? Although not widely known or applied in this country, there are far better management practices than most school managers know about. This book describes these highly successful practices and explains how school managers can learn to use them. What is significant about these practices is that they are specifically aimed at persuading workers to do quality work. In today's competitive world, only organizations whose products and services are high quality thrive, and our schools are far from thriving.
Among those who have taught managers to manage so that almost all workers do high-quality work, one name stands out. To quote from Dr. Myron Tribus, one of his disciples:
The man who taught the Japanese to achieve high quality at low cost (after World War 11) is an American, Dr. W. Edwards Deming.... The Japanese faced an "export or die" situation. They had a reputation for shoddy products.... With the aid of the MacArthur government, they located Dr. Deming, and he proceeded to teach them the methods rejected by our managers. The rest is history.
What this history tells us is that the Japanese workers, led by managers trained by Dr. Deming, for the first time in modem history made very high-quality products, especially automobiles and electronics, available at a price the average person could afford. Given the opportunity to get high quality for the same price as low quality, consumers are stampeding toward "made in Japan," and the result is that Japan is now one of the world's richest countries.
I must mention that today, many years after Dr. Deming introduced his ideas so successfully in Japan, some people have become critical of both how the Japanese now manage and of American managers who claim to be using the same ideas. When this criticism is examined, however, it becomes clear that what is being criticized is not what Dr. Deming taught but rather the distortion of his noncoercive ideas by managers who are only paying lip service to Deming as they return to the traditional, coercive management practices that have been associated with the problems Deming has shown how to solve.
This book will explain how Dr. Deming's ideas can be brought undistorted into our schools so that the present elitist system, in which just a few students are involved in high-quality work, will be replaced by a system in which almost all students have this experience. Once they do have this experience, which for almost all of them would be a totally new one, students will find it highly satisfying. They will no more turn down the chance to continue doing this kind of work than does the well-managed factory worker. But further, as I will soon explain, students are not only the workers in the school, they are also the products. Once they see that they themselves are gaining in quality, they will make an effort to continue this option, just as we continue to buy the quality products of Japan.
Deming, before his death in 1994, labored for thirty years in Japan before more than a few American industrialists paid attention to him. More are now listening because they have become aware that paying attention to what he had to say may mean their very survival, but teachers and administrators have no such incentive. They have every reason to believe that they will survive whether or not they change what they have done for so long. So as much as Deming's ideas are likely to increase the quality of our education, moving "managing for quality" into practice in our schools will not be easy.
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Meet the Author
William Glasser, M.D., is a world-renowned psychiatrist who lectures widely. His numerous books have sold 1.7 million copies, and he has trained thousands of counselors in his Choice Theory and Reality Therapy approaches. He is also the president of the William Glasser Institute in Los Angeles.
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changed my teaching, changed my classroom
This is a must read for both administration and classroom teachers. I first read this book while teaching a SDC class, it is possible that this book changed the lives of 30 special education students in a single year by changing their attitude of looking at their own work. Many thanks to Dr. Glasser.