Friday, April 1, 2011

Fair isn't always equal



When we confuse fairness with equality we marginalize and victimize the very students who need us most.

The only people who gain from such standardization are those who the system had in mind.

What about everyone else?

Public education is for the public - it's for everybody. Standardized testing is by definition exclusionary. See the problem?

12 comments:

  1. I always say to my students at the beginning of the year "Equal does not mean the same", and I get them to tell me what I mean. Then we have a discusssion. Then I tell them that each student learns at their own pace and style, and that I will be working with each of them, and that what they may be doing over the course of the year is different from each other, based on need, interest, and skill in a particular area at a particular time.

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  2. great cartoon Joe, did you create that yourself? It makes an excellent point.

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  3. Joe,

    Well said, kids that do well on standardized tests are good test takers not always good students. I see a distinct difference. Taking a test is an academic skill no more than shooting a basketball is a physical skill. Both need to be taught and yet we don't make every kid become a basketball player...

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  4. @tcomfort: No, I didn't create it. I saw it and had to blog about it.

    @Josh: Well put. It's sad to say, but a lot of people don't understand the difference between achievement and learning. I like how Alfie Kohn differentiates between student achievement (test scores) and student's achievements.

    @madandbruno: that's a cool lesson to learn - too bad our kids understand this better than some of our policy makers.

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  5. Where did you find this cartoon? I love it. I'm hoping to include it in the Educational Comics blog if I can.

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  6. I love this cartoon as well because it so clearly makes a point. If you could let us know where you saw this I would appreciate it. I'd like to use this cartoon as a springboard to work in assessment & math which makes up much of the work I do these days. Thanks.

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  7. My classroom attempts to live by this principle and even so we have student conflicts over "fairness". One student has numerous adjustments and adaptations, yet when another student gets more, he is confused and complains. This must be a human trait as strong as any.

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  8. I first saw this cartoon here. Scroll down through the comments: http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/the-illusion-of-standardization/

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  9. I really like that cartoon as well! I'm a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I can definitely see how this cartoon can spark a huge discussion about fairness and equality. The way I think about it is that you can teach your students in what you consider a "fair" way, but the results you get will never be equal. Too often, teachers teach in this "fair" way and it generalizes, marginalizes, and victimizes the student. The results of this teaching are never equal because every student is different and that must be recognized. As I'm studying to become an educator, I often think about what I will value in my classroom and I definitely hope to get to know each of my students so I can teach them fairly AND equally.

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  10. that sounded sarcastic but it wasnt btw

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  11. If a next possible step is life in the tree tops of the jungle - the tree climbing might be a good separator. The test could have sections on swimming, etc. Some would be better in the ocean. It seems to me that many people react to tests as a potential barrier that might keep them from getting to where they want to go. Such tests can also be viewed as a means of getting information about where might be a good next place to go. I think testing gets a bad rap. Without testing would people just randomly - you name it - start law school, attend MIT, attend art school, become a basketball player, become a family counselor, etc.? It seems to me that those who belittle such testing might consider suggesting more effective alternatives.

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