Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lean in Education - The kids are alright!

Lean in education? It's about time!

I found a series of great videos about Lean recently. They were made by students from a grade 7 and 8 class for their lean project.  I'm not exactly sure what I like most about these videos. Is it that someone is teaching Lean in school? Or maybe it's because these kids seem to understand it so easily. Not only is it a good learning experience for the kids, but they're actually coming up with small improvements to help their school. It's a win win.

In my internet browsing, I haven't found too many examples of Lean in education. Of course, every kindergarten teacher knows how to label their boxes so toys get put back properly. And I'm sure some large school systems are using versions of lean for optimizing their educational methods. But this is the first example I've found of lean actually being taught in the classroom.

As a project based activity, the children get to work on their own process improvement. Some children chose to focus on their own space, while others worked on systems within the school itself. They're learning valuable skills, from from conception of the ideas, problem solving, right up to the presentation of the project on video. I wish I could have done something like this while I was in school!

And they know their stuff! Visual controls, waste reduction, 5S and organization, standard work and checklists. It's all there. A perfect learning opportunity for them and for us.

Here's one of the projects focused on improving a bedroom work area. Not just tidying up, this guy's thinking about reducing motion, waste and 5S!

Improving the school is another added bonus. Every lean initiative has a focus, not just training. The projects done in the school seem to help out a little bit here and there. Not only are the children learning valuable skills, the school is gaining improvements. With all these small kaizens going on, the school culture is bound to change and improvements will continue outside the curriculum.

Here's another interesting project for organizing the school's PE room:

The next one shows a standard work developed for cleaning the class microwave:

There's a whole bunch more of these, so check out the CcsProductions7and8's youtube channel for all the videos!

So, what do you think? Is it time to introduce lean into the standard education curriculum? 

I've added this to my huge list of free lean videos, since we can all learn something from these! 


  1. You know what, the real lean way of teaching is to skip the school completely - unschooling ! But seriously, many of the rot methodologies that we see in organizations are very much enforced from the learnings in school! Check out some unschooling books and you will realize that there is indeed a lean way of learning that is very effective. And it is all around the key aspect of the system - people!

  2. Great comment! I thought you were joking when you mentioned unschooling, but a little Wikipedia research set me straight. Unschooling is definitely a different approach, maybe even a little extreme, but sometimes it's good to push the envelope.

    You learn something everyday!