By SM Staff


What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is a Japanese which means ‘continuous improvement’ or change for the best. Literally Kai=Change; Zen=Good. In other words Kaizen sums up as change for good. Kaizen has a deep meaning and has applicability to all domains, be it manufacturing or self development

Kaizen is a human-centred approach to effectiveness. Japanese car manufacturing giant Toyota has been known for using KAIZEN principle.

Who Popularized KAIZEN?

Masaaki Imai popularized the idea of KAIZEN through this book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success.

How Can We Apply Kaizen to Teaching?

In the previous article on teaching as complex human activity the author cites about the challenging nature of the profession and what actually contributes into the learning outcomes of a child.

Almost all nations today are working towards improving their school system, for example in India Right to Education Act (enacted on 4th August, 2009)was introduced which is intact a highly criticized act by renowned educators across the country, calling it as an school infrastructure act and how it has failed to take care of learning and basic skills acquisitions. United States of America had an initiative called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) (introduced in 2001) wherein each state made their own achievement standards.

With Universalization of Elementary Education efforts, there has been significant jump in the enrollment. However quality of teaching-learning practice inside the classrooms is worth working for.

When it comes to improve quality of education, Kaizen can be one of the solutions.

“The cycle of kaizen activity can be defined as: “Plan → Do → Check → Act”. This is also known as the Shewhart cycle, Deming cycle, or PDCA.”

The method is very simple from one perspective. It acts as a simple framework towards effective teaching and measuring the effectiveness of the teaching as well. Like at Toyota Production System, every abnormality is observed and sorted out during the line production by line personnel, a teacher can observed and discontinue a pedagogy that isn’t working. One can plan for a new pedagogy that will work and impact.

The method teachers can use it in the following way:

  1. Plan: Plan a lesson considering the number of students in the class. First your need to set the goal in terms of learning outcomes you intend to achieve in accordance with the curricular goals. Secondly you assess their learning style (you can assess the learning style using this tool) and language or comprehension ability (please note that in every class there will be students with different level of comprehension ability)
  2. Do: Conduct the class using the resources design to serve the all learning styles especially the Kinesthetic, Auditory and Visual learners. During this process you also gather data in terms of students engagement levels, quick verbal assessments, number of questions asked by students among others.
  3. Check: Every teaching or facilitation needs checking. In academic terms we can consider it as assessment. It could be as simple as asking an objective question related to the topic or concept taught. Check can be done using pen and paper mode as well, however this can be done on a weekly or monthly basis. Today as we have several smart technologies smartphones or tablets can be used to do the checking. Use the data gathered during the ‘Do’ phase as well.
  4. Act: As this is a continuous cycle, the act phase is very critical to the process as it will eventually make the ‘real’ difference or the impact. Lets take an example, after the check was done you found that couple of students were not able to understand anything that you taught and there were around 10 students who just got the initial concept related to the topic taught; this is the data you have to act upon. Also through the ‘Check’ phase you will assess yourself on the following parameters – What went well and What can be improved next time.
Observed this graph, it indicates how the standard would improve over time as the process of PDCA impacts the service or product development.

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