In Teaching in a Knowledge Society Andy Hargreaves has a cautionary tale – Education off the Rails – about the effects of applied performance standards that push people all too easily into quick fixes rather than sustainable improvement.
His analogy concerns a stay he had in the UK and a railway meltdown.
In that case, emphasis on standards turned into standardization and targets met. Privatisation cut the cost of engineering repairs by contracting them out to private tender. Performance standards replaced long-term accountability. And the consequences were disastrous.
If you really want to improve remember: Culture Eats Standards For Breakfast
His point is that excessive concentration on minimum standards and short-term performance targets can be self-defeating. They can push trains, and education, off the rails by eradicating an established culture.
Cocoa Was Spilt
In the illustration Henry the Green Engine* is derailed because a fall of snow forced the signals down. In that rail disaster, Cocoa was spilt but no lives lost and Henry was dispatched to Crewe for a new firebox.
Henry the Green Engine by the Rev. W. Awdry.