Let's Teach Our Kids about Standard Work

You may have seen Dean Odle’s great story about his third grader using Job Instruction to ace her recent assignment. If not, take five and read this story.

Last week, our first grader’s class held a pot luck lunch where parents could listen to their children show off their reading skills. It was a nice time and I always enjoy the miniature chairs which bring your knees up to eye level.

One genba observation stuck with me. We brought our four year old along because he has like, five girlfriends in the first grade class. One of his friends was teaching Aidan how to tie his shoes. The instruction went something like this:

“Aidan, watch me. First you do this, then this, then this, then this, then this, and then this. OKAAAYYY?”

Aidan, of course, had no interest in the matter and considering the fact that he was wearing Velcro sandals, had nothing to practice with. Nevertheless, his instructor assured him, “Now you can tie your shoes because I showed you, OKAAAYYY?” to which Aidan just nodded in the affirmative and went back to eating his hot dog.

The thought occurred to me…there is a lot of industrial instruction that isn’t a lot different than that described above! If we are going to nip this standard work thing in the bud, we need to go back to formula and start teaching our kids two things, 1) how to think about processes and 2) how to instruct.



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