What is...?

TOC for Education

Eleanor May-Brenneker (SEAL Committee)

TOC stands for Theory of Constraints, and is a set of tools for problem and/or conflict resolution which significantly enhance life skills for anyone involved in education.

TOC is based on thinking processes which logically, systematically and in structured steps address the root of problems and lead to ways to solve them. They help bring hidden assumptions ' wanted, as well as unwanted' to the surface so they may be verbalised. These thinking processes and techniques utilise the cause-and-effect principle and are user-friendly for children, pupils, students (of any age, ability and ethnic background) and their teachers.

The TOC thinking processes were developed by Dr Eliyahu M Goldratt, a physicist by education and a business consultant by profession. In 1986 he founded the Avraham Y Goldratt Institute with the goal of generating and disseminating knowledge. Dr Goldratt has introduced his theories and proven solutions into the business world to great acclaim. He has written some best-sellers, viz The Goal, The Race, It's Not Luck and Critical Chain. All four books are basically business-oriented, while the first is more relevant to education. The TOC thinking processes and life skills tools for education have already been applied successfully world-wide in areas such as School Management, Conflict Resolution, Responsible Decision Making, Teaching and Learning, and Peer Mediation. In the Alderman Pounder Infant School and Nursery, Nottingham, UK, teachers and pupils use TOC tools to tackle problems as they arise.

In my private practice for SpLD/Dyslexia pupils, we find TOC invaluable in addressing learning differences, and it's a great support for Left Brain/Right Brain integration in the thinking processes, organisation and planning procedures for dyslexics.

TOC knowledge is being donated to education systems and taught to educators in a five-day MSW course (Management Skills Workshop), through a non-profit making foundation, established by Dr Eli Goldratt in the USA, whose president is Kathy Suerken.

TOC teachings consist of:

Problem-Solving Tools
By logical thinking you find answers to three questions essential to any process of on-going improvement:
1 What to change? (identifying the problem area, the bottleneck)
2 What to change to?
3 How to cause the change?

Daily Management Tools
These aim at the improvement of win-win conflict resolutions, verbalisations of issues, effective communication, team-building skills, delegation, empowerment.

Proven Solutions
Many of these are discussed in the four books by Dr Goldratt mentioned above.