Sums Up My Feelings About Standards-Based Education

“Who begins too much accomplishes little.”  — German Proverb

I was thinking about simplicity this morning.  It’s fascinating that most all human are equipped with  two eyes, one nose, one mouth, etc. However,  the way in which these are laid out, subtle differences in size and symmetry, create what we consider a beautiful person or not.  Plain, homely, ugly and gorgeous are all just random distribution of a few variables.  The interesting thing is how little control we have over the outcome.

So it should be with education.  Currently we are trying to shove everything but the kitchen sink into education.  We have not created a thing of beauty, rather we’ve created a weird Frankenstein monster.  We just gave it eyes, without considering the rest of the composition.  Because we want those eyes to do everything, they don’t match.  Rather than being a strong evolutionary addition, it’s a weak, unfocused one.  Same with the other parts.  While education is a man-made thing, and therefore subject to different rules than evolution, the amount of tweaking hasn’t improved the process.  It’s that “too many cooks” adage.

I really believe if we want education in America to work, and to work well, and to be a thing of beauty — not just utility — we need to pay attention to the simplest items and carefully select the RIGHT parts.  We need to focus and prioritize.  I find it curious that we want all students to be “college-ready”, yet colleges are going back and reteaching what they consider high-school skills.  Perhaps if we slowed down, we would hit the target.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s not about creating a country of super-kids.

Only then will we be able to accomplish a lot rather than a little.

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