How Standardization Screws You OverPosted: September 29, 2012 | |
You’ve probably all taken some kind of standardized test. The SAT, for example. Or the ACT. If you do well on them, you get to go to college, which is supposed to somehow be beneficial for your future existence in the job market. Unfortunately, getting a good job after college is not as guaranteed any more as it once was. But let’s talk about information and standardization.
Nowadays, we are surrounded by too much information. We’re literally drowning in it. I’m struggling to breathe as I’m typing this. We place a lot of value on how much people know. If they know a bunch of stuff, they’re considered smart individuals. The more you know, you know? But what defines intelligence? The amount of knowledge about things? Or the amount of wisdom about things? Or the amount of things you can do? All three, right? But we kinda only specialize on knowledge acquisition.
Standardization sets the bar for students’ aspirations (say that with a heavy lisp). It says, “Hey, I’m the average.” If you do really well on the SAT or the ACT, then you’re above average. If you don’t do so well, your amount of knowledge and your computing capability is not as average as you think it is. But because of standardization, our youth generally has about the same amount of knowledge. The curriculum in many schools stays the same, so it’s like we’re pushing kids through an education factory where the same information is taught to the same age group for many years. If everybody is taught at the same speed, how can anybody excel?
It’s alright to have standardized tests, because they only last for a few hours, but if a whole education model is built on standardization, that’s where things start to go bad. The smart students won’t be challenged, so they slack off. The dumb students won’t be challenged either, because they don’t really understand what’s going on, so why even bother? Standardized education only caters to that very small percentage of students who find themselves in that average zone.
It shouldn’t really be about how much you know, anyway. Many teachers and professors will argue that, “the more we know, the more we’re capable of learning.” Yes, true, but does that mean that we have to bombard everybody with mostly useless information? I don’t necessarily need to know about the intestines of a worm. We should rather be teaching students how to load the dishwasher properly. Or how to iron clothes. How to have a conversation. How to efficiently navigate around on the Internet. How to invest. How to start a business. How to cure malaria. How to create new economic, governmental, and educational systems. We also shouldn’t just be talking about those how-to subjects. We should be actively doing them. And most of the time, that can’t happen within a classroom setting ruled by standardization with an emphasis on knowledge acquisition.