The Bubble Leading the Bubble (Measures of Impatience)

How fast can you measure the temperature of the glass of a window on the other side of the house?
What if you have only a fixed amount of time to do so, and I pick the time?

Forget the budget.

If I gave you an hour, you probably be accurate to one decimal place?
If I have you a week, four or more?
If I gave you minute, could you get there to point one of those laser guns at it in time?
If I gave you two seconds, would you just guess from here? I think you’d have to.

Perhaps, just perhaps? we should stop measuring a high school’s ability to educate by counting how many of its students are immediately accepted into a four-year school? Or their SAT scores? Or one of my favorites, how many lightbulbs per student are in the building? How about we wait ten years and see how many of them are employed, and how gainfully, vs. how many are incarcerated, by the state or by debt, and base some funding on that?

And I meant the outside of the glass.

Impatient measurement plagues most American institutions. Measurement, remember, used to be much more difficult than it is any more; what is rushing now is what used to be our best effort. I feel the pain of the same people I’m challenging– funny how large self-reinforcing systems always find it difficult to fund introspection. Or not funny. So resources are always limited, but we can still lean towards taking more time when making determinations about “what problems there are”: not spending the time ourselves, but waiting, for the outcomes actually to happen. In our attitudes and interpretations at least, we can do this, and this is where change starts. Spend the money; get it right.

Shoutout to my father for complaining about our focus on “money in the hand.”