This month Edwin Garro writes about the Quality and Productivity Technical Program for high school students that has been adopted in Costa Rica. 5 high schools joined in the first year and 7 more will join in the next 2 years. The ASQ Influential Voices are commenting on this idea this month.
I was glad to see the point Edwin makes about the teaching critical thinking. I wrote a blog post about critical thinking perhaps being the most important catalyst to successful adoption of continually improvement management practices.
A system that promotes critical thinking and puts continual improvement first is one that is well on the way to better management practices. With that mindset the value of quality tools and concepts is clear (and can be tested). Without it, often making the boss happy and letting things stay the way they have always been are the main things that drive behavior in the organization.
Teaching the quality tools in combination with critical thinking is a powerful approach. Students that learn to use quality tools to experiment to achieve quality results from system will be well suited to the modern workplace.
I wish the effort in Costa Rica well. They would be wise to keep these words from Dr. Deming in mind as they go forward:
Don’t just teach quality practices to the students. Use quality practices to improve education. The First Annual W. Edwards Deming Institute Education Conference is being held next month in Seattle. I would encourage the Costa Rica effort to learn from Dr. Deming and Alfie Kohn and David Langford (the latter 2 are keynote speakers at the conference).
I sat in on my first formal education on quality management practices when I was in high school (a seminar my father was giving to the City of Madison).