Lessons about learning: #1

In the middle of the Three Eras Ireland piece is a badly drawn diagram summarising the logic model that I drew with a bunch of grant makers, policy makers and practitioners in a Dublin hotel over a couple of days in 2004. The model seemed to stand up as Atlantic spent its money over the decade that followed. Except for one bit. The end.

The model concludes with better health, education and engagement of children across the island of Ireland. Whether these specific outcomes were achieved we do not know. (There is a lots of evidence of specific impacts on specified sub-groups of children but nothing at the population level).

As it turned out, the legacy of the Atlantic investments were not specific, they were general. There is now a Minister for Children in Ireland who sits at the cabinet table. There is a mandated flow of resources into prevention and early intervention in Ireland. There is now a strong service design and evaluation infrastructure previously absent from the country. Science is seen as fundamental to better health and development. (Analogous advances were made in Northern Ireland as well).

Many of you taking part in the conversation are leading major initiatives. You will look for specific outcomes. But your legacy is more likely to be general, and unpredicted.

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