Most of us are unaware of the universal rule that works silently behind our lives and governs it. Anyone who understands its wonders lives a happier life, accomplishing more in lesser time. It is seen at work in our daily lives, and known by various names; the 80/20 rule, the Pareto Principle, and the Pareto’s Law. The principle is simple, stating that hardly 20 percent of the action is responsible for 80 percent of its outcome. In other words, 80 percent of the impact comes from 20 percent of the cause[1]. The 80/20 rule is everywhere; especially in education. This article discusses the same; the application of 80/20 rule in education and the top 5 ways to take the maximum advantage out of it.

The 80/20 Rule – In Detail

The Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule has been named after Vilfredo Pareto, an economist and an inventor of this principle. Centuries ago, he observed that 80 percent of the wealth in Italy was in the hand of 20 percent of the population, and that 80 percent of the peas in a garden was grown out of 20 percent of the tea plants. Pareto studied the land distribution patterns of some other countries also and found similarities. Today, the 80/20 rule is seen in almost all aspects of life, for instance:

  • In the field of languages, the most commonly used 20 percent of the words make the 80 percent of the word occurrences
  • The richest 20 persons in the world hold 80 percent of the world’s wealth
  • Microsoft reported in 2002 that 80 percent of the crashes and errors in MS Office and Windows resulted from 20 percent of the bugs
  • Most of the researches show that 20 percent of the customers generate 80 percent of the company’s profit while 20 percent of the complaints received arose from 80 percent of the customers[2]

The 80/20 Rule in Education – The Ways to Make the Most of 80/20 Classrooms

Way No. 1:  Time & Resources Consumption Pattern

You must know that who 20 percent of the students take up 80 percent of the time and resources in the classroom. Determine those 20 percent of students whom you invest most of your time and energy at. Make systems, rules and strategies to streamline the challenges[3]. The recognition of this pattern eases much frustration when you see the students who just went through your mind a minute ago. It makes their challenge less personal as you can view a bigger picture.

For instance, one way to implement is to know how many of the students are struggling for being organized. It has been seen that a bigger portion of the teacher’s time is freed up if the learners can handle the work on their own.

Way No. 2: Know the 80 Percent

Instead of more focused on 20 percent, emphasize more on 80 percent to maximize the impact. Instructors and trainers mostly focus the students they cannot easily reach. The dwell on times they are unable to complete a lesson due to a change in schedule, behavior or other interruptions, and then they go back home with a frustration every single day[4].

Instructors don’t recognize the 80 percent successes they can have in their days. One of the key reasons that put us in the wrong direction, especially in educational scenario, is that we tend to value the 100 percent with A+; an ideal score. Majority of instructors don’t become the instructors contended with 80 percent success rate. It is imperative to believe that 80 percent can be the best we can do.

Way No. 3: Don’t be Perfect

The 80/20 rule has been everywhere since the universe was formed. As per this rule, you cannot expect to gain perfection in your profession as an educator. This is the rule where distinguishing between perfection and excellence is very important. Perfection implies reaching each and every student. And, it is not possible. That, though, doesn’t mean that you must not try. Rather, you must strive for the excellence.

Way No. 4: Be Kind to Yourself

It is also very important to give yourself a space and be kind to your soul. Keep in mind that you are not at all giving up on your students; rather you are just giving yourself the permission to be satisfied with yourself, even if you are unable to reach the remaining 20 percent[5]. And most importantly, never forget to give yourself the credit of your 80 percent achievements.

Way No. 5 Balance Content & Impact as per 80/20 Rule

It simply means 20 percent of the content creates 80 percent of the impact. Determine the most important and impactful 20 percent of your overall content, using your passion and creativity. Of course, this takes time. It is a fact that 20 percent of the content you make students learn accounts for the 80 percent of the effect on the understanding and grades of the students[6]. Once you find out the 20 percent of the content delivering 80 percent of the impact, your burden will be radically reduced while covering the content the entire year.

Completing the high-impact tasks in lesser time and with efficiency also boosts your energy and confidence. Instead of feeling like you are running on your knees, you will feel more accomplished and focused. After applying and practicing 80/20 rule, you get a motivation to go ahead. Start practicing 80/20 rule in everything and you will soon begin to accomplish twice as much as normal. This is my personal experience!


Copyright (c) 2019 Bryant Nielson, All Rights Reserved
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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.