Sunday, January 31, 2010

Standards and Standardization

I had the good fortune of listening to Sir Ken Robinson speak in Calgary, Alberta. He said many many inspiring things that evening including something to this effect:

"There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but who said that having high standards means everyone has to do the same thing. Having high standards and standardization are not the same."

So if we don't have to standardize in an effort to provide high standards for our children's education, then why is there so much standardization? Alfie Kohn writes about cui bono in his book Punished by Rewards. Cui bono meaning: who benefits?

Standardization rarely is in the best interest of student learning. Instead, standardization most benefits those who wish to collect data that can be analyzed and compared - allowing teachers, students and schools to be 'properly' ranked and sorted.

It's about ranking rather than rating.

I propose that we liberate our children's learning from their standardized prison cells. Personally, the best thing I ever did in order to liberate my students was to abolish grades. Without grades, I no longer felt like every student had to do the same assignment or same test. I didn't need 'data' that was quantifiable nor did I need to compare one student to another.


  1. This is interesting, thanks. - How have you managed to "abolish grades" within your school's system, and how have you won your principal's, parents' and fellow teachers' support?

  2. matthiasHeil, take a look at this page for my entire (5 years) experience with abolishing grades from my classroom.


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