Reflection #1 – Efficiency and Effectiveness

Posted: November 4, 2009 in Education, Leadership, Reflection
Tags: , ,

This morning as I was drinking my morning coffee and watching the day wake up I thought I’d start a series of relection posts.  This post is obviously the first or an as-yet undetermined number of thoughts that will range from pedagogy, to practice, to leadership and management and anything else in between.  This first one is written in response to an article by Boyd (reference to come).  Hope you enjoy the posts.

Pursuing efficiency in the name of effectiveness, quality or whatever it is that you long for.

 As I prepare to write this reflection I find myself thinking of the philosophical concepts asked in the question ‘do you agree that efficiency and effectiveness are not mutually exclusive?’  In my mind this can be likened to the debate about perfection between Aristotle and Plato, one side for the ethereal and the other for the physical.  Effectiveness and Efficiency are the same.  Effectiveness is the ethereal element whilst efficiency is a physical measure of it. 

 I believe that though they are inter-reliant, their differences need to be recognised.  Effectiveness is a concept that is unmeasurable.  To better understand this I’ll define effective as the production of a desired outcome, yet the degree to which the outcome is reached or produced is hard to measure.  Efficiency on the other hand is easily measured as it is the way to produce an outcome that requires the least resources.  Where I ground my argument is in the space that the most efficient way to produce an effective outcome does not always produce the outcome with the greatest effectiveness.  As argued throughout the article by Boyd, this is where the measure of the efficiency of education and educational processes does not necessitate the greatest quality outcome. 

 I also believe that a high-order, quality educator does not function as an educational practitioner using consistent, linear practice in their teaching/learning space.  There are elements of connectivity with students that are learnt, not taught.  The concept of academic care, rapport, respect, pastoral care etc…  To make education efficient, as an absolute, would risk the removal of the use of these facets of educational practices.

Article: Boyd, W.L. (2004). Are education and Efficiency antithetical? Education for democracy vs the ‘cult for efficiency’. Journal of Educational Administration, 42(2), 160-173


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