- Why did part A break? Because it rubbed up against part B.
- Why did it rub up against part B? Because part B was installed incorrectly.
- Why was part B installed incorrectly? And so on, until you arrive at a root cause.
Lets apply this to education:
- Why did Johnny fail the chemistry exam? Because he takes poor notes in class.
- Why does he take poor notes in class? Because he never learned to take notes.
- Why did he never learn to take notes? Because he was never challenged and never cared.
- Why was he never challenged? Because he did not see the point of school.
- Why did he never see the point?
Hmmm ... let's try that again:
- Why did Johnny fail the math test? Because he has trouble with word problems.
- Why does he have trouble with word problems? Because he missed details in the problem.
- Why does he miss details in the problem? Because his reading skills are poor.
- Why are his reading skills poor? Because he started to do poorly in English class a few years ago, and then gave up trying.
- Why did he give up trying? Because he did not see the point. Hmmm ....
People can and will blame "poor schools" until they are blue in the face, but the solution to many of our students' academic issues lies in the realm of leadership: motivation and personal responsibility. How should we teach leadership?
Ironically, avoiding something pointless is an excellent leadership skill. Adolescent rebellion, properly understood, is leadership misdirected. So how do we make our students see the point?