Posted by George Thompson
In an article published in Educational Leadership, “The Threat of Accountabalism,” Phillip Schlechty offers that public education in the United States is slowly being overwhelmed by what David Weinberger, a highly regarded author in the field of business, calls accountabalism.
According to Weinberger, “accountabalism is the practice of eating sacrificial victims in an attempt to ward of evil.” He goes on to write, “because accountability suggests that there is a right and a wrong answer to every question, it flourishes where we can measure results exactly. It spread to our schools where it is eating our young - as a result of our recent irrational exuberance about testing, which forces education to become something that can be measured precisely.”
Daniel Pink, in Drive, cautions, “what science is revealing is that carrots and sticks can promote bad behavior, create addiction, and encourage short-term thinking at the expense of the long view.” At the Schlechy Center we have heard many stories from educators who are caught in a world of contradictions and dilemmas where accountability, while well intended, has become destructive, or just plain silly. We invite educators, parents and/or students to share examples of accountabalism, where short-term thinking and actions have trumped doing what is in the best interest of students over the long term.