Thursday, June 21, 2012

Outcome Based Education - Isn't That ALWAYS What We Want??


Twenty years ago I was involved in an effort to transform the educational model in the Jefferson County School System, on the west side of Denver, Colorado. What we were trying to implement was  Transformational Outcome Based Education, otherwise known as Transformational OBE. Our coach and mentor in this effort was William G. "Bill" Spady, who some refer to as the Father of OBE. He always laughed and said to be the the Father of OBE he would have to be 500 years old... and he was right!

Real, no kidding OBE has been around at least that long, if not longer. Yet, at that point, twenty years ago, the zealots and nay-sayers rose up in a chorus of dissent that could not be believed by anyone looking more than ten feet into the future. This motley crew was made up of religious zealots who claimed it was counter-religious indoctrination, freedom zealots who claimed it was MIND CONTROL and the schooling for the new world order, and worse. It would have been laughable if the result was not so serious.The result is that, twenty years later, we are still saddled with a completely ass-backward, out of date, and out of step 19th century educational model as we roll merrily into the 21st century.

I challenge you to think of a single thing that we do today, where the result really matters, that we DON'T use outcome based education - pilot training for commercial carriers, surgical training, military combat training - none of these things use a grading system and a set time limit. They ALL use a "demonstrated proficiency" aka you have to meet an expected outcome to be able to practice. I guarantee you, you will NOT be operated on by a guy who got a "D" in open heart, and you will sleep better tonight knowing that the guys and gals who defend your liberty have to demonstrate that they CAN before they are "field tested"!

So, when we are talking about education for the future, education that takes into account cradle to grave learning, that is focused on life long demonstrated capacity and proficiency, I don't think we need to get any more radical than to get serious about implementing transformational OBE. Your thoughts and feedback are, as always, welcome.

Thanks for Being There and Being You!

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