Lean in Education: Continuous Improvement in Elementary Schools

Can you teach lean principles to elementary school students? The Mountain View Whisman School District in Mountain View, California, is doing just that.

            Actually, it’s a two-stage process. The district is engaged in an organized, ongoing effort to train teachers in continuous improvement, and the teachers are then applying that training in the classroom, working with students to improve the educational experience.

            The district has created a video that makes for fascinating viewing. Both teachers and students – as young as five years old – describe what is happening in the classroom.

            This is not the kind of formal lean experience you might find at a manufacturer. As far as I can tell, there is no value stream mapping, no kanban bins, none of the tools of lean.

            You might call it Lean 101, but that would be an overstatement. This is kindergarten lean – in some cases, literally. The techniques being taught and used include setting goals, providing ongoing feedback, identifying problems and working together to find solutions.

            The most immediate benefit from this approach are that the students will achieve more in class and gain greater enjoyment from being in school.

            In the long-term, and perhaps more importantly, these students will become adults who believe in continuous improvement, who view it as a fundamental part of how they operate and what they do.

            This is fantastic. I hope we see this idea spread throughout education.


1 comment:

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