Monday, August 19, 2013

Not Excited About CCSS #2: People Are Not Toasters

One of the repeated arguments in favor of a national standard is mobility: "If my kid has to move from Akron to Cucamonga, I want him to come into a new school that is the same place in classes as his own school."

On the surface, there is some merit to this argument. But on closer examination, we see the same thing wrong with all manner of standardization in education (and, for that matter, the world).

Let's look at this. Under CCSS, the argument goes, I should be able to teleport into any classroom in the country and find basically the same thing going on. Let's put that another way-- I should be able to teleport students out of any classroom in the country, gather them all into one room, and find them all pretty much in identical spots on their educational journey.

And there's my problem. Stop by my classroom in March. There's a room of students who have been exposed to exactly the same teaching program. Will they all be on exactly the same page? Of course not-- because human beings are not toasters. Every human being grows in his/her own way in his/her own time.

To use the CCSS approach to infants, the feds would declare that all infants must say their first words by month nine. They would offer a list of appropriate words for the child to say. And if the child didn't say words at month nine, the child would be labeled in need of remediation (which would be available in several spiffy Pearson-produced modules).

Or we could use the CCSS approach to courtship and marriage. Federal regulations would determine that people should meet at a certain age, proceed through a certain number of dates, and become engaged after a certain period of time, and then get married after an engagement of the standardized length. And we would expect that any husband and wife from any part of the country could be expected, based on their age, to be at a certain federally-approved stage of their relationship. Heck-- we should be able to take any husband and switch him out for any other husband of the same age and the two marriages should go on without a blip.

Human beings are not toasters and schools are not assembly lines. Standardized tests and standardized programs fly in the face of everything we know about human beings and about real learning.

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