Last semester in my high school small business management class I experimented with bringing SCRUM into the teaching of how to manage. A colleague of mine who is a professional scrum master helped bring this awesome program to our students. We had 8 students choose to learn the scrum method and take the PSM-1 test. 2 of the 8 passed with most students coming very close to passing.
The remaining crew of students starting a business in small teams and ran their businesses during class. They did not receive direction on how to run it or how to manage it for a few weeks. When the SCRUM group tested, they worked with the student businesses to see if they could speed up their processes by being their project managers otherwise known as Scrum Masters. It didn’t work perfectly, however, the students learned how to move faster and fail more often. They learned the three components of SCRUM that they can use in their education and lives. Those three are: Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptability.
At the end of the semester, we had broken a few records… we had the first high school student in the nation to pass the PSM-1. We also had the youngest to pass the PSM-1 in the nation at the age of 15. Yes...15 years old. It can be done. We underestimate the knowledge of our students in traditional systems.
Most students came up to me on the final day and let me know how applicable SCRUM is to them in their lives. Many told me they have already applied it to their other classes and school work in general. In my teaching of business management, I have noticed many parallels to life uses. Students know that they can procrastinate on a paper and write it in the 11th hour. I’ve had conversations with students who have had weeks to complete an assignment wait and do it in 15 minutes right before it is due. And they do pretty well on it. We’ve all seen and heard of these stories as teachers and parents. My kids do it all the time.
In order to combat this habit, I believe teaching SCRUM to middle school kids is an answer. Framed up to the students, SCRUM can help them free up time in their days to get content completed quickly. The problem is is that students don’t want to finish early because they know they will have to do more work that they are not interested in. I tell students all the time that they could finish high school by using the SCRUM method in half the time (2 years). In order to make it work, we as educators should cover our content and have students get to the standards needed using SCRUM in sprints, then have them work on things they are actually curious about. For example, an eighth grader is given a unit of Algebra. They are taught to find the answers and understand problems by using technology. Done is defined by completing all the tasks for that unit and scoring a certain percentage on a test or exam. The student then will work with others on “development teams to work out the tasks at hand. The sprints happen by working out who is going to do what in the chapter. Each student must individually score a certain percentage on the unit assessment. Should one or more on the team (3-5 students) not pass, the others must help re-teach the lessons to help the student understand better. The team doesn’t move to done until all students pass the unit. The teacher here is the “product owner.” Is this going to work perfectly? Absolutely not. However, it has the potential to help students work together in teams earlier in life and understand the concepts of the newest ways to perform project management. The bottom line is that I think there is something within SCRUM that can be learned within our school systems to better run and educate our youth.
For more information about SCRUM go to www.scrum.org