KICKING THE CAN
When problems are not addressed when they present, they often worsen. The Kicking The Can Down the Road archetype examines the long-term impact of delayed decision making and ownership of that decision at the moment a problem presents. Failure to adequately respond to problems when they occur transfers ownership of the problem to the next in line. The model highlights the problem associated with the lack of accountability
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Kicking the Can is particularly insidious in educational systems. First, the natural direction of kicking the can is always forward: that is, problems that occur in elementary school (and left untreated) will follow students forward into high school (but not vice versa). Second, the nature of learning is cumulative. Learning in later years builds upon the fundamentals acquired in earlier years. A student who does not master addition and subtraction will not master division and multiplication. Third, the alignment of the teacher workforce further compounds this problem. A first grade teacher has a different skill set than an eighth grade teacher or a high school teacher. When a student moves forward in the system without achieving mastery in the previous grades, the teachers are less well equipped to treat the root cause of the learning gap. When a student arrives in 9th grade English class with only a fifth-grade reading level, it is a problem that his teacher is a content expert and not a reading specialists the way an elementary teacher is. This systems dynamic begins to surface one of several different contributing factors to the achievement gap. To explore this model, open the Kicking The Can Systems Thinking Model below.