How Kaizen philosophy is revolutionizing schools
The story is now well known how E. Edwards Deming developed the
principles of "total quality management" in America, only
to have the Japanese endorse it wholeheartedly to improve their
Basically, built in quality as part of a total process. And
the Japanese have given the concept their own name of
"Kaizen". As Masaaki Imai puts it in Kaizen: The Key to
Japan's Competitive Success: "Kaizen strategy is the single
most important concept in Japanese management – the key to
Japanese competitive success"
Now some aspects of Kaizen are being used to revolutionizing
schooling, as well as business.
In their top-selling book The Learning Revolution, co-authors
Jeannette Vos and Gordon Dryden outline the key principles of both.
In particular, they outline how Mt. Edgecumbe High School, in Sitka,
Alaska, has pioneered TQM or Kaizen methods to dramatically improve
schooling. Among the major results:
The results are spectacular. Almost 50 percent of all graduates
have entered college and are still there or have graduated: much
higher than America's national average. In its 544 pages, The
Learning Revolution has devoted more space to Mt. Edgecumbe than
any other school.
- Students have set up four pilot companies, and in running them
they learn foreign languages, quality control, statistical
analysis, mathematics, science, exporting, marketing, accounting
and much, much more.
- Teachers and students are regarded as co-managers. They set
their own targets and goals, individually and collectively.
- The first week or each school year is used for building
self-esteem and quality training.
- Teachers have completely changed their teaching styles, with
most now being "95 per cent facilitators" rather than
- All students learn either Japanese, Chinese or Russian, as
part of their vision to be key participants in the Pacific Rim.
- All students set very high improvement goals.
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