Measuring what matters

In what kind of world do we actually want to live? And can we measure whether we are getting closer? If so, what and how should we measure?

Why should we measure anyway?

Some quotes that point to the importance of measuring or monitoring in order to change and move towards what we care about are "You Can't Manage What You Can't Measure" and more generally, "You can only change what you are aware of."

Do you agree with these statements? Why, or why not?

Monitoring progress and transparency are actually important elements that allow a group of people to move towards what they care about, or to achieve their goals (see Sustainability and Behavior / Design principles for successful cooperation)

Lesson Idea:

  • Students form groups, each group focusing on one of the above indicators (as well as others not included in the list)

  • Students search the internet and/or are provided resources on their indicator

  • Each group creates a presentation or poster on their indicator

    • What kinds of things does the indicator measure? How are these things measured?

    • What are the results? Are there comparisons between countries and data over several years available? What data is missing? What do the data show?

    • Do you think the indicator captures all the things that are important (to you, to your group, to humans...)? What kinds of things that you think are important are not included in the indicator? (see also: Human needs, values, well-being)

  • Finally, the class compares all the indicators by their merits and flaws, as well as similarities and differences in their results, takes a vote on what the best indicator is in order to measure progress, or develops a novel indicator (based on some aspects of the presented ones or integrating new measurements, while taking into account the feasibility and constraints of measuring)

  • How could we measure these regularly and in an efficient and ethical way in our school or in our community?