"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Standards are WONDERFUL! We Love the Concept!

Thanks to Marion Brady for these points that he posted earlier to Gerald Bracey's EDDRA listserv.

I, for one, am interested:
I wish I could interest you good people in a strategy for cutting down the pole that holds aloft the "Standards and accountability!" banner.

The perception that educators opposed to NCLB are simply unwilling to be held accountable is surely the engine driving the current "reform" movement. That perception must be countered.

I tried (again) to explain how to do this in my cover article for the May 2000 KAPPAN, ("The Standards Juggernaut")," but nobody paid attention.

So, now, consider the merit of a concerted effort to speak with one voice to this year's Congressional candidates, saying something like:

1. Standards are WONDERFUL! We love the concept!

2. Unfortunately, the subject-matter standards Congress has mandated are freezing in place a curriculum designed in 1893, the effectiveness of which peaked about 1950.

3. That curriculum:

- Has no overarching aim

- Fails to support the basic process by means of which knowledge expands

- Ignores the holistic, systemic nature of knowledge

- Disregards the brain's need for order and organization

- Fails to model the seamlessness of human perception

- Lacks criteria for determining the relative importance of specific knowledge

- Insufficiently relates to real-world experience

- Neglects vast and important fields of study

- Unduly emphasizes symbol-manipulation skills

- Fails to exploit the mutually supportive nature of knowledge

- Relies on short-term recall rather than logic for accessing memory

- Has no built-in self-renewing capability

- Assigns students an unnatural, passive role

- Does not address ethical and moral issues

- Encourages simplistic methods of performance evaluation

- Does not progress smoothly through ever-increasing levels of intellectual complexity

- Makes unreasonable demands on memory

- Lacks a vocabulary and conceptual framework facilitating educator communication

- Is overly dependent on extrinsic motivation

- Penalizes rather than capitalizes on student variability

4. NCLB isn't just reactionary, it doesn't just stifle curricular innovation, it ignores the most promising education-related ideas to emerge since WW II - General Systems Theory, conceptual modeling, and a new appreciation of the holistic nature of knowledge.

5. NCLB is beating a dead horse, and the rest of the world will quickly pass us by.

Marion Brady

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