Getting to the Root of the Problem

The purpose of this portion of my Problem of Practice project (the lack of time in education) in my current grad class (Learning Technology through Design) is to try to get to the root cause(s) of the problem. Often times when we explore problems beyond their surface characteristics we learn that this (the surface problem) is really about that (a cause not easily seen). To get closer to the root cause of my problem I did a few activities that I have inserted below.

The five why's
The “Five Whys” Activity

The first activity I did is called “The Five Whys”. The process is to start with your problem and ask why (roughly) five times and see where it leads you. For me it lead me to understand that maybe our problem with a lack of time in education is driven by the fact that the general public doesn’t fully understand how to best educate children and how to best support teachers. I then thought that, although I’m not to this phase yet, an approach to solving this problem may be found in better educating the general public on education.

Why how Ladder
The “Why-How Ladder”

The idea behind the “why-how ladder” is that at the bottom you start with needs of teachers in regards to time. You then “climb up” the ladder with “whys”. The hope is that eventually all the “whys” that stemmed from your needs will lead to some common reason. And it worked! This activity was interesting for me because as you can see in the diagram these needs all ultimately lead to “improving learning outcomes that are relevant and positively impact all students”. I almost stopped there, but then I asked “why” again. I mean, what’s the point of all this? Why do teachers do what they do? What drives a teacher to care about the learning outcomes of students? This led me to the “big why” bubble. You can see the examples I listed but this is essentially the big reasons people (should) get into education. I think the takeaway from this for me was that most teachers get into education for great reasons. But if they are to be successful then they need time to meet all the needs that go into educating students. We need to consider this when we think about why many people avoid becoming an educator. If someone is highly motivated to join the profession for great reasons but then takes a look at all they’ll need to be successful and doesn’t see consistent support for those needs, then they are less likely to pursue a career in education.

POV Madlib
The “Point-Of-View Madlib”

The last activity I did is called a “Point-Of-View Madlib”. As you can see in the diagram the idea is that you fill in the purple bubbles with a user, his/her/their need, and a reason. The purpose behind a POV activity is to develop a statement that captures the design vision. If all goes to plan I can help teachers meet some of these needs so that their reason can be realized. I went to my survey to fill these bubbles in and going through the 53 responses I felt like I could make 53 different statements. Teaching is such a diverse profession and the problem of the lack of time extends it’s fingers into almost every aspect of it.

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