Monday, December 16, 2013

A need for an uncommon standard

What exactly is a standard? Often defined as any norm, convention, or requirement...but who defines the norm, convention, or requirement? or decides which standard in which field is most important?Society? Government? Need? How much thought actually gets put into it or do we do what we've done just at a higher level?

Recently I attended a few Holiday events (socially) and couldn't help but relate these experiences with my passion - learning a.k.a. "education". In my profession, there is an enormous amount of pressure and energy being applied to raise the "standards" and ensure that all children achieve this standard, as defined by the Common Core - and State Assessments (only currently in Language Arts and Mathematics, and sometimes Science)...

Back to my event epiphany, how dull would the events (or life for that matter) have been (and they weren't because the people there have a wide variety of ideas, skills, and proficiencies), if all of those attending were exactly the same? Same level of proficiency in writing, mathematics, everything - all standard. My feeling is it wouldn't have been interesting at all. Nor is it possible. We can't be all things to everything. Example, in my own life, I LOVE to play the guitar and sing - my wife and kids would tell you they wish I didn't...if I was told I had to be at the same level as the Avett Brothers (a great band in my opinion) I would not measure up...ever...despite the many remedial classes I would forced to attend. And while trying to be something I'm not, I would fall behind in the areas I excel. The truth is, there are people who are better than you at certain things. My belief is you are better at other things than they are. The point, what if instead of standardizing everything, we just let children and people develop their passions to the point of exceptional? Expose them to all subjects imaginable, provide them with resources and support and just see what happens...poof your mind just exploded right? I know, it is hard for me too - to imagine a system that is different than the one I was "educated" in...but I think we owe it to our students to try.

In life, and my little social life events, there are people who have a trade and work with their own hands everyday to make something - or make something better, those who are medical doctors, those who are in charge of leading others to accomplish a single mission, those who create the soundtracks to our lives, writers, and my favorite - those that spend their day helping children realize they are wonderful even if they haven't quite hit the standard (YET) - they help them learn about themselves and what they are exceptional in. Perhaps it is ok to have a standard for each discipline but maybe a bit silly to expect every child to achieve the same standard at the exact same time in their learning life. Learning is not linear.

Final thought, what if those who make the standards all decided to measure you - not based on what you have decided is your life's work, but instead in some other thing that they feel is in your best interest. Would you (or I) measure up? Not if we all had to be world class guitar vocalists!

Happy Holidays-

Food for thought!