Problems in the Classrooms…


Problems in the Classrooms… Hey; there are problems in the classroom.  Our children, particularly, those in disadvantaged communities, are not ready to meet the goals of our educational system.  These communities do not get the phenomenal teachers likethat privileged public schools get.  Education is necessary to break the cycle of poverty with its multiple risk factors that adversely influence health, our economy, and our criminal justice system.  This playing field for the disadvantaged is grossly unfair!


Standardized testing of students continues with our old-school approach to problems.  The adoption of many evidence-based programs lacks transparency and is plain, old BOGUS!  Anyone can come up with an evidence-based study that does not mean the program is any good, or it will work outside the test tube in the real world.


“Evidence-based” do not make these studies the gold standard for programs in disparate communities.  These over-hyped social programs tout their evidence-based nature, misleading and grossly misrepresenting the ability to replicate these program in across different communities.


Bottom line -– #Cronyism is rampant everywhere, but particularly at the federal, state, and local levels.  Education needs an infusion of new blood, new people, parents, and families.  Cronyism is neither conducive to selecting the best approaches nor appropriate for solving the contextual problems within various communities.


Volunteering is good and a great way to connect with your community.     In volunteering, I noticed the same paid employees wearing many different hats, promoting historically failed approaches and programs:  The same failed approached packaged differently for many government-funded programs.


My intent is not bludgeon people whose intentions are noble but to reinforce the obvious–More unintentional harm than good are done by ignoring systems of corruption and other alarming adaptive systemic issues.


Positive Deviance (PD) is an approach piloted in 1990 to combat malnutrition in Vietnam -.  Its results are impressively effective in solving adaptive problems.  PD is completely community-driven.  It assumes that individuals within a community have figured out the solutions to many problems in their community, despite facing the same hardships.   These members show a positive deviance (PD) from the norm and they are living proof of their successful solutions.


The following Vietnamese proverb highlights the reason behind the success of Positive Deviance.:


“One thousand hearing is not worth one seeing; one thousand seeing is not worth one doing.”


PD is an approach well suited to community-driven programs that tap the communities’ resources, empowering communities.  The solutions come from within the community; thereby, increasing communities’ acceptance of interventions that are already culturally sensitive.  Just think, every day PD community members are  the best evidence-based proof that community-driven solutions work.


Why aren’t we looking for those who show Positive Deviance within disadvantaged communities?  We can reduce health care costs, improve health while engaging and empowering INDEPENDENT communities.


Our present systems’ #FailuretoListen creates new problems and widens gaps.

The proof is in the pudding.  .


Would you like to know more?


Pascale, R., Sternin, J., & Sternin, M.  (2010). The Ppower of Positive Deviance. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

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