The factory model of education came into vogue in the 19th century. Students began to fill classrooms and teachers became drastically outnumbered introducing the challenge of quality in schools. Though it may seem that the solution is smaller classrooms and more teachers, this is an ideal to which the world may never return. Needless to say, the current situation is that the student-teacher ratio in most educational environments are well over 20-1. The factory model is here to stay because given this proportion, it is the only way to ensure quality.
However, there is a huge disconnect in the factory model as it is applied to education. In a car factory, given today’s focus on quality management, a production line manager is expected to ensure as near absolute quality as possible with his failures being measured in the parts per million scale. He would be fired many times over given the quality that comes out of the production line that is the school. The problem is the method of measurement. Schools have used the subjective side of education as a manipulation to remove the measurement of overall average quality.
First, a car factory is measured not by a few individually great cars that come off the production line, but by how many total errors come off. It is not acceptable that even one car not reach its potential. However, in schools, a teacher and school is recognized for the “car” that stands out, regardless of the dozen others who fall short of their potential. When such a discrepancy in the model surfaces, the school blames the “car”, not the production line, even filtering so called “defective parts” from the line.
Second, schools have built a production line to produce the most “cars”, but manipulate parents into believing that each child is built with individual care. Ironically, the Ferrari supercars and other high-end cars are in fact not built in a production line, but are handcrafted one car at a time with a team of highly-trained engineers working on a single car. Schools are in fact convincing parents that they are buying a Ferrari (sometimes even charging the price of a Ferrari) with a factory and process designed to produce Hondas.
The focus for the production line school must be to improve quality from the bottom up, as it is done in a car production line.