Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Factfulness finding

Just finished reading Factfulness by the late Hans Rosling et al, and here are three bits I'm carrying away:
  1. "Though we absolutely need numbers to understand the world, we should be highly skeptical about conclusions derived purely from number crunching." (191)
  2. "Sometimes when you are called to action, sometimes the most useful action you can take is to improve the data." (232)
  3. "A long-jumper is not allowed to measure her own jumps. A problem-solving organization should not be allowed to decide what data to publish either. The people trying to solve a problem on the ground, who will always want more funds, should not also be the people measuring progress. That can lead to really misleading numbers." (236)
Each of these resonates with schools and my work within a particular one. I see them as potential guideposts in making decisions towards improving the quality of data we gather with students about their learning, what we all do in response to this information, and what oversight governs this process. (Spoiler alert: Conventional grades feel insufficient.)

The notion of 'factfulness,' I came to realize, involves spiraling through cycles of gleaning more useful information and asking better questions in service of incremental progress. If you're curious to spend more time down this rabbit hole, visit Gapminder.


  1. One of my friends brought this book to our yearly retreat. Unfortunately, it did not make our list for this year. I think I need to read it anyway. And visit Gapminder!

  2. "A long-jumper is not allowed to measure her own jumps." I think I might turn this into some sort of mantra. I don't yet know how, but the simple statement has bowled me over.

  3. Thanks for your post today, Brian. I was intrigued by the Gapminder site. "Conventional grades feel insufficient."=> #truth