Friday, June 17, 2011

Education for all

Alfie Kohn writes in his article Debunking the Case for National Standards:

Are all kids entitled to a great education? Of course. But that doesn’t mean all kids should get the same education. High standards don’t require common standards. Uniformity is not the same thing as excellence – or equity. (In fact, one-size-fits-all demands may offer the illusion of fairness, setting back the cause of genuine equity.) To acknowledge these simple truths is to watch the rationale for national standards – or uniform state standards -- collapse into a heap of intellectual rubble.
Stanford University's Elliot Eisner adds:

The kind of schools we need would not hold as an ideal that all students get to the same destinations at the same time. They would embrace the idea that good schools increase the variance in student performance and at the same time escalate the mean.

In The Myth of Standardized Tests, the authors paraphrase Eisner:

That's a professional way of saying that we ought to  become more different, rather than more alike, as we grow to physical and intellectual maturity. More different, yet we all grow.
Mara Sapon-Shevin, the author of Widening the Circle, adds:

What we teach people about human variation as children will have a profound effect on their understanding of difference in the future and their abilities to connect and relate to people who are different from them.
Mara Sapon-Shevin goes on to say what I believe is to be the whole point of this post:

It seems obvious to say that we can understand and value differences only if we are surrounded by them.

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