more ramblings of a retired teacher
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08/30/13
Standards, Conformity, Education and Tomorrow
Filed under: General, Education
Posted by: Algot @ 7:03 pm

The tweet stream flows by. The conversations are not always obvious. Even the meaning isn’t obvious. Sometimes, though the brief message sparks something.

Now, I don’t know what “Uber” is, and $3.5 billion is beyond my level of finance. So what did this message spark?

It made me wonder what we are building for tomorrow in our public school system.

Education is being constrained by budget strain (nothing new), and Common Core State Standards imposed by a coalition of state governors (very recent). These constraints are drawing down the scope of what children will encounter during any given school year. Art, music and all sorts of electives are under pressure. In some places they are already gone so that schools can focus on preparing students for the Common Core standards in English language and Math. Science is getting a chance with a push to get STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) connections built on top of the math standards and their high stakes standardized tests. Flexibility and options are fading away, being replaced by conformity, standards and accountability.

I always thought that education offered children (as it did for me) the chance to see what we currently know and to learn how to build tomorrow’s version of the world from that stable base. The Common Core State Standards seek to make everybody’s base the same. That sounds commendable. However, in doing that, they may actually be consolidating the way things are, imposing limits, restricting experimentation and individual growth. The effect of the Common Core isn’t apparent because its application to the K-12 sequence is just beginning.

I fear that the result will be to make today’s students ready for “the way things are” instead of the way they will be, much less the way they “should be.”

What are we optimizing?

K-12 education has been blamed for being mired in last-century methods, sometimes called the “factory model” of education. I personally do not see how the Common Core or the slavish accountability of standardized testing will help children become adaptable, creative, enthusiastic stewards of tomorrow. Remember, tomorrow will not be the same as today…unless, of course, you really work hard to standardize it that way.

Be ready, kids. Good luck.

Now, adults, the guides of our children, what is your definition of “ready”?

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