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How uniformity killed the education system…

For all those who have worked as teachers or in the administrative side of the educational sector, have you ever been told that doing everything the same way is a positive?  That the only way to make sure kids are progressing and learning, is to be on the same page as every other teacher?  Or, have you experienced the opposite, where you have felt that your class, you individually, has been excluded or isolated from the administration or other teachers?  That the work you are doing in your classroom is done your way, and so, there is at least a small portion of the education system that works properly. 

What if I told you that both of these ways were wrong?  It is less either/or and instead is both.  Let us take the example of grades, shall we.  They are uniformly in place, from middle school through college, and even in the elementary level, are done the same, just with a different name.  This type of uniformity is dangerous to learning and to the child.  It automatically states that this is the bench mark, for comparison amongst students, amongst teachers, amongst schools, amongst districts, amongst states, amongst nations.  This uniformity does not leave room for creativity, multiple intelligences, innovation, or out-of-the-box thinking.  No matter what is done, it comes down to the same thing…you have to anguish, as a teacher, whether to fail Johnny with his 59.8% or give him a D-. 

Why, can we, as educators recognize the diversification in subjects of learning, but are so challenged to do in the person?  Consider this:  Do we really think that each classroom is the same? Each student is the same as the other?  We are filled in the world with differences, why make them one specific way, instead of the celebration those differences?  It would be hard-pressed for any teacher, or counselor, or even principal, I imagine, to say that students are uniformly the same, so why do we force them into a system that is rigid and restricting? 

Are there are times to be on the same page as each other?  Yes!  I agree that teachers should work together, but on creative lesson plans and team-teaching, on non-traditional ideas and critical questioning learning.  The teachers simply stating, “we will teach up to this point this year, and you can start here next year” is not cooperation it is UNIFORMITY.  I admit, it is a fine line that determines what is uniformity and what is cooperation, and that it is subjective, but nonetheless, regardless of what it is, if it is not trying something different, something unique, something unexplored, and doing so continually, then it becomes or is, uniformly, and not cooperative.   

It is not that I do not believe in the idea of cooperation and support, or a social network and base support system for all people of society, quite the opposite actually, but what I 100% disagree with is turning cooperation into uniformity.  In education, can we build a structure that deconstructs the uniformity of a system, while implementing cooperative teaching and allied learning?  I believe we can and I believe we must…at the private, alternative, and public sectors..if we are ever going to get back to learning and away from competition.

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About caseykcaronna

A 27 year old Master of Arts in Education Degree holder from the progressive, liberal arts school, Goddard College. I am interested in Holistic, Community, Progressive, Democratic and Student-Centered Education. I am currently a part-time employee with the Boy Scouts of America. I am writing my first book on holistic education and looking for full time employment in education, throughout the United States and Canada. I am interested in all things education and hope to make trans-formative changes to the educational system(s) in America and in the process help to improve the lives of the individuals in whom it serves.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “How uniformity killed the education system…

  1. Hey Casey,

    Thanks for contributing so thoughtfully to this amazing discourse. I am a newbie to this group. I also am a Goddard EDU alum, got my MA in ’07. Who’s advisory group was this who got coop cat started? Can I guess?

    Anyway, has anyone read Peter Sacks’ Standardized Minds? It seems relevent here. The standards-drived educational establishment seeks to standardize. And what is a standard? It seems that the discourse on national standards wants to suggest that they use the “s- word” as a positive thing, a minimum allowable quantity of knowledge or skill. But undoubtedly by embracing a series of standards we tend to standardize, a process of approaching uniformity and obliterating difference, both individual or community-based.

    I was amused to look up some definitions of “standard” to be reminded that this powerful and power-filled word also means “a grade of beef immediately below ‘good.'” AND “a flag, emblematic figure or other object raised on a pole to indicate the rallying point of an army or fleet, etc.” There are other obscure phallic meanings too such as in horticulture.

    My point I guess is that standards tend to homoginize AND tend to “dumb down.” We no longer look for unique gifts and strengths but instead focus relentlessly on deficits. The learner is less and less significant, their experiences, interests, learning styles, etc. The standard drives the curriculum, the assessment and pretty darn near everything. Standards are one of the most potent “weapons of mass instruction” (Gatto).

    Best,

    Paul

    Posted by Paul Freedman | September 23, 2010, 5:42 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Writing at the Cooperative: Week in Review « Cooperative Catalyst - September 27, 2010

  2. Pingback: Education Deconstructed « .: IceApple :. - November 23, 2010

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