Updated: Jun 15, 2022
Do you know the reason for how the leaning tower of Pisa is standing strong? Are all the interventions in education sector this strong?
It dates back to 1173 (12th century) when the Republic of Pisa set to increase the sizes of the buildings at the central square to make it a magnificent landmark. Originally the tower was built for a shorter structure for which the engineers thought that just a 3 meter foundation would suffice. Unfortunately by the time they constructed the fourth floor, they saw that the southern side of the tower was already underground and there was a halt because of the war in Pisa for over a century. When the construction was resumed on 1272, they tried to compensate by adding more floors to the southern side and again because of more masonry the tower got more tilted by the time they reached seventh floor. There were several attempts to prevent it from tilting further:
In1838, a walkway was dug near the base around the tower to examine but this only worsened and it got tilted further because of removing the supporting sand.
In 1935 mortar was injected to strengthen the base which again tilted it further.
and many more failed attempts. Finally after 6 centuries, further tilt was fixed by doing the following:
Post world war the researchers realised that the soil was marshy (Pisa got its name for the marshy land). And the structure didn't fall initially because of the century long gap during war when the soil got settled.
The trajectory of the tower, centre of gravity and soil stability was calculated and 38 cubic meters of soil was removed from north. It was counter balanced with 600 tonnes of lead ingots and was anchored to the base with steel cables.
It is estimated that the structure will stand strong for atleast 300 years.
Now, how is it related to the education interventions?
Covid has impacted education globally. Random interventions and solutions will only worsen the already existing challenges. It took 6 centuries to realise that random attempts to protect the tower from falling didn't work.
Engineers did research on building a strong structure but unfortunately were not informed about the type of soil they are standing on. Solutions that are only research based may not work as they are not aware of the context. Systems thinking plays a major role in any solution design.
Tower of Pisa was stopped from tilting further only 6 centuries later with an attempt that was evidence informed. Education interventions will be successful only when they are evidence-informed and contextualised.
Today most of the education solutions are implemented either based only on practical experience or on random trail and error attempt. Considering that there is a learning gap because of the pandemic lockdown, best would be to design evidence-informed solutions.
Evidence-informed solutions links 'what matters?' with 'what works?' in the education ecosystem and has all of the following elements:
Monitoring and evaluation guide
Scope for contextualisation
When 90% of medical practices are from evidence; when engineering practices are from evidence; why not education?
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a lesson to the world that 'evidence' made it stand strong rectifying the mistakes.
It is not too late to make the education interventions stronger.
Join us in building evidence in education.