One of the few blogs that I follow on a regular basis is Stephen Few's Perceptual Edge. Stephen Few is the author of several books on designing effective dashboards and is widely regarded as one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking authors in the data visualization sector. If you are remotely interested in data visualization you already know of Few and probably follow his work.
However, what I want to reference today not Few's work on visualization, but a poignant post that Few published in early January this year. In this post, "There Are No Shortcuts to a Bright Future", laments that we are too enamored by magical solutions and we must "get down to the hard work of real problem solving." Few is disappointed that hype has replaced hard work and drive for recognition has overcome satisfaction (of a job well-done).
For the last few years we have seen this same ethos emerge as dominant in education. Schools, policy-makers, and entrepreneurs are increasingly selling new and "innovative" technologies or teaching environments. They are seeking and winning awards for "innovation". However, as Saul Kaplan, author of Business Model Innovation Factory, wrote "it is not innovation until value is delivered." It feels like "value" in education is increasingly about buzzwords and hype, not about whether kids leave better prepared for college or whether students fewer students have dropped out.
Few's post reminded me that there are no shortcuts to a better future. Whether we are doing are targeting Marginal Gains or Transformation we must invest time and energy. Our success should be judged by results, not hype.