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No Change, Just Better Numbers

Seth Godin’s daily post begins with a couple of interesting lines.

As soon as we measure something, we seek to improve the numbers.

Which is a worthwhile endeavor, if better numbers are the point of the exercise.

Is he writing about standardized test scores? No. As is usual, Godin is presenting his thoughts about a business issue.

However, between that opening and his concluding paragraph…

The questions we ask change the thing we make. Organizations that do nothing but measure the numbers rarely create breakthroughs. Merely better numbers.

… it’s not hard to see plenty of overlap with our adoration of numbers (aka “data”) – and a corresponding lack of breakthroughs – in current education policy.


  1. Will Richardson

    Better? Or different? The measurements drive the conversation. We need to measure different things, not do the old stuff “better.”

    • tim

      That’s the way I interpreted Godin’s last idea: if you do nothing but measure numbers (in our case give tests), you never get to any breakthroughs (which to me would be the better ways of helping students learn).

      I see this a lot around our district where we are so involved with collecting and analyzing “data” that we never get around to more creative and valuable experiences for the kids.

  2. karen

    Piaget had the same thing to say when discussing American attitudes towards his developmental stages.

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