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How you define the end goal always defines how you play the game.



"How you define the end goal always defines how you play the game." 🏀


I recently immersed myself in the insightful book, "Learning to Leave: How Real-World Learnings Transforms Education" by Elliot Washer and Scott Boldt. In their words, they shed light on a profound truth: "In education, we have a system that mostly pays attention to the score and not the game." 📚


Indeed, when it comes to education in America, our obsession with completion and graduation has often overshadowed the more critical question: What happens after graduation? 🤔


Our education system has become fixated on the checklist leading up to commencement, but it's time for a dynamic shift in our perspective. We must turn our focus toward what comes next, post-graduation, to ensure the holistic fulfillment of our students.


Imagine this: A basketball game where the only thing that matters is the final score. The players dribble, pass, and shoot solely to run up the numbers on the scoreboard, focused on winning at all costs. No one pays attention to the elegance of their movements, the teamwork, or the personal growth that happens on the court. Fouls and mistakes are rampant without care or concern. Sounds absurd, doesn't it? 🏀


Now, picture a different scenario. In this basketball game, the score still matters, but it's not the only thing that matters. The players, the coaches, and the spectators all understand that the final score is a reflection of the journey, not the journey itself. In this game, the players focus on improving their skills, honing their strategies, and working together as a team. They celebrate each successful pass, applaud every defensive stop, and appreciate the personal development that comes with each game. In this game, the score serves as a valuable indicator of progress, but it's not the sole purpose. The true essence of the game lies in the passion of the players, the camaraderie among teammates, and the growth that happens with every practice and every match. Sounds better, doesn’t it?


Now, think of our education system. Are we primarily fixated on the final score, which is graduation, without paying enough attention to the journey of learning? Similarly, our education system has become so preoccupied with metrics like test scores and graduation rates that it often neglects the essence of learning—the process, the experiences, and the personal growth of our students. It's as if we are measuring the success of a game solely by the final score without considering the skills, strategies, and camaraderie developed along the way.


Just as in our modified basketball game, we should view graduation as an important milestone, but not the end destination.


"What matters is what we measure, and what we measure is what matters." 📏


We must reimagine the way we gauge success in education. It's time to shift our attention from the completion checklist to the post-graduation journey. After all, life is the grandest classroom, and the real test of our education system lies in how well it equips students for life beyond the diploma. Education should be about fostering a love for learning and encouraging students to explore, innovate, and adapt in order to fulfill their potential. The goal (our metrics) should not be about completion; but rather on the successful alignment of each student’s personality, aptitude, passions(s), profession, and purpose.


Here are two of my favorite allegories to illustrate this shift in perspective:


1. The Tree Analogy: Think of education as planting a tree. Graduation is like planting the seedling correctly in fertile soil. Yes, it should be celebrated, and done correctly, but the true measure of success lies in growth, the strength of its roots, and the fruit it bears in the years that follow. The planting in and of itself is not the metric of true success. 🌳


2. The Puzzle Analogy: Life is like a complex jigsaw puzzle, and formal education provides some of the pieces. Graduation is just one piece snapping into place, but it is not the totality of the picture…arguably it is not even the complete border. So much of who we are and the impact we make throughout our lives occurs outside the classroom. Solely tracking academic metrics is insufficient. True achievement and fulfillment is understanding the entire picture and integrating all the colors and segments of our lives successfully. 🧩


So, my fellow educators, policymakers, and advocates, let's dare to redefine the goal in education. Let's measure not just the destination but also the journey. Let's embrace the vision of preparing our students not just for graduation but for a life filled with purpose.


Our ultimate goal should be to produce graduates who are not just equipped with knowledge but also with permeable abilities, durable skills, growth mindset, and unwavering passion to thrive in a rapidly changing world.


It's time to shift our focus from the score to the game itself, because how you define the end goal always defines how you play the game. 🌟


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