20 April 2011

Effort

Easily Distracted | Timothy Burke | Two Cups Short of a Full Service

If I gave you an unlimited line of credit and carte blanche to run everything your way, do you think you could make a single secondary school work? I mean, really work so it was beyond reproach, was by almost any measure superior in outcomes and character and ethos to any alternative? Now what if I took away from you the choice of where your school was located and restricted you to pupils who lived within 30 miles of your school? Now what if I required you to obey all relevant national and local laws addressing education? Still confident? Now what if I made you operate within a budgetary limit that was generous by local and national standards but not unlimited? Getting harder yet? Now what if I put your school in a location with very little infrastructure and serious structural poverty?

The point here is that when one crucial task like that is hard enough, we should be deliriously happy to see a person dedicate their life and money and effort to make that task work.
No. We should be deliriously happy when someone does make that task work, or work better. We should be supportive and appreciative but ultimately unimpressed when someone makes an effort to make it work.

Development and charity and reform projects are, in the long-run, poisoned by people's acceptance of effort in place of results.

Efforts are laudable, but we need to be able to admit when something is not working and move on to the next approach, rather than patting ourselves on the back for how hard we've worked and feigning insult and indignation when someone points out that nothing has been accomplished.

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