Wednesday, January 27, 2016

From Standardization to Personalization

I have just finished reading Creative Schools by Dr. Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica. The book has lots of things to think about. A main focus in the book is developing ways to make education more personal and connected to each individual student.

Toward the end of the book is a long quote from Jimmie Don Aycock, a Texas state representative. Here's the end of his quote:
"[Some people] felt that if you test students more, raise high standards, and keep the pressure on, we will excel and move forward in our educational results for children. I've got to admit that there was a time that I felt that way. The thing we missed in that thinking was that that's a nice mechanical view of education. It's like a factory-production view. What that fails to take into account is that human beings are not all alike. You can do the same thing and get very different results sometimes. So I backed away from that thinking and I realized that No Child Left Behind is left largely on that kind of thinking and I just don't believe that anymore."
A lot of what Ken Robinson has written addresses the need to change from this production line, everyone is alike culture to a more diverse, organic culture. The metaphor needs to change from industrial to agricultural. Teacher Tom has addressed these same concerns. I've seen school curriculum that assumes all students are the same and evaluate their work with little regard to individual development or background.

I hope we get to the point where interest and individual development and needs and strengths all have input in how we teach and what we value. (Yes, value. What we test and emphasize is what we value.) Telling a great story or drawing an insightful picture are important, valuable skills -- just as valuable as reading difficult words or reasoning through a math equation.

I love to use play, exploration, and investigation because kids can enter into experiences in their own ways, use their own strengths, gain support from others in non-threatening ways, and develop understanding through individual perspectives. Is play a cure all? No. But it does recognize individuality, much more than many strategies in the classroom today.

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