. . . . President-elect Obama has said that NCLB was well intentioned, and it was. He's said too that one of the major problems in implementing it has been the lack of federal funding, and it has. But he knows too that the problems with NCLB are much deeper than money. The whole premise of the act is deeply flawed. It's based on the fatal idea that to face the future schools just have to do better what they did in the past: they simply have to get back to basics and raise standards. Schools, and policy makers, should get back to basics. They should aim to raise standards too. Why would you lower them? But what are the basics now, and which standards should apply?
I said that the premise of the act is flawed. Actually there are three flawed premises. First, NCLB promotes a catastrophically narrow idea of intelligence and ability. The result is a terrible waste of talent and motivation in countless students. Second, it confuses standards with standardizing. The result is that schools across the country are becoming dreary and homogenized. And third, it assumes that education can be improved without the professional creativity and personal passion of teachers. The result is that too many good teachers are streaming out of the very schools that urgently need them to stay. All of this is holding America back in a world that's moving faster than ever.
To face the future, America needs to celebrate and develop the diverse talents of all of its people -- young and old alike. It needs to cultivate creativity and innovation, systematically and with confidence, in business, in culture and in rebuilding its post industrial communities. It needs to provide leadership at home and abroad in promoting deeper forms of cultural understanding and cooperation. These are the real basics. Basic to all of them is a different view of human talent and ability, and of the real conditions in which people flourish. . . . .
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sir Ken Weighs In On NCLB