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the positive side of curriculum standards
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xcriteria Offline
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the positive side of curriculum standards

Standards, and the new "standards-based reform" of the No Child Left Behind Act, have a bad reputation among a lot of people. This is due especially to the implementation of "high-stakes testing", meaning that schools have to meet certain standards or their funding can be cut. However, I'll leave a detailed critique of this practice to a different thread.

In this thread, I want to make a case for considering standards from a different angle. In short, I see them as a net asset to students who want to pursue independent learning, free from the legal requirement of coerced school attendance.

How many students have actually read through some curriculum standards? I think it's an interesting exercise. Well-written curriculum standards contain a sort of checklist of things that are worth learning. They can also provide a basis for guiding independent learning. And they can be a point of reference to demonstrate where and how school is a waste of time, or at least is a highly inefficient use of some students' time.

Contrary to expectation, standards don't tend to be written in terms of specific facts students must regurgitate. Instead, many are written in a form that makes me respond with, "I'd like to learn to do that (or improve my ability) and school did a horrible job of helping me with that."

For example, consider Montana, which lists distinct standards for performance levels "novice," "nearing proficiency," "proficient," and "advanced." In the subject of Reading, the "advanced" criteria for student ability upon graduation include:
(a) is self-motivated, an independent learner, and extends and connects ideas;
(h) consistently sets ambitious reading goals as he/she selects, analyzes, and evaluates;
(i) self-selects material appropriate to a variety of reading purposes; and
(j) consistently applies complex thinking skills as he/she gathers, uses, and responds to information from a variety of sources.

These sound like worthwhile skills, but my school experience did more to impede those abilities (especially by crushing my motivation) than to help me develop them.

Identifying this sort of discrepancy between policy and practice, and figuring out how to resolve the discrepancy independently, might provide a solid reason for protest and gain the attention of key stakeholders.

Standards for every U.S. state are easily available on the web via http://edstandards.org/Standards.html.

The existence of well-defined curriculum standards leads me to ask, "If someone is able to learn these without school and do well on standards exams, why should they be required to attend school, or take particular classes?"

The GED is a version of this, but it doesn't provide an alternative before halfway through high school in many states. Plus, even though it is effectively equivalent to a high school diploma, many parents are suspicious of letting their kids drop out of school.

If a pilot project can be established that can demonstrate independent, standards-based learning reliably offering better results for the "school averse" population, I think there's a good chance of getting the attention of politicians and the public. Especially with support from some people in academia, and current and former students see their schooling as a profound waste of time and a miserable experience, I think that a change of policy might be achieved.

The thing is, this requires literally out-doing school, and learning methods and materials are needed that provide an enjoyable learning experience while assisting learners to meet education standards at their own pace.

Thoughts?

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11-14-2005 06:08 PM
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Doc Johnson Offline
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Really solid questions and observations here. The only reason I can think of is that adults don't want kids out of their immediate control. School, after all, is the world's cheapest form of paid childcare, a creche for the offspring whose parents can't afford better.Wink

You may want to check out the third and fourth chapters of the stuff I sent you, Brendan. It deals with kung fu, and I talk a lot about how ving tsun uses things like forms (a term that refers to what karate would call "kata") to establish "standards" and a serious of "principles" that provide "meta" guidelines for how students approach and implement the "standards" contained in the forms.

For me, that's the key: Making sure that control gets shifted away from curriculum and adults and toward the students. We have a saying in my kung fu school:

Quote: Kung fu without a system is not kung fu. Kung fu dependent on a system is not good kung fu.
--Grandmaster Moy Yat

I got nothin'.
11-27-2005 01:41 AM
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Doc Johnson Offline
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Let's try that again. :roll:

Doc Johnson Wrote:We have a saying in my kung fu school:

Kung fu without a system is not kung fu. Kung fu dependent on a system is not good kung fu.
--Grandmaster Moy Yat

I got nothin'.
11-27-2005 01:43 AM
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SoulRiser Offline
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Doc: you can edit your posts Wink

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11-27-2005 07:22 AM
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Mom Offline
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Standard- something set up as an example against which others of the same type are compared: something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example.

No one is standard.
07-09-2006 07:16 AM
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R00t Offline
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Standard, as defined by google: a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated

Of course no one is standard. That's pretty much a Der statment. What it is useful for, is picking out some of the idiots.
07-09-2006 03:07 PM
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Mom Offline
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My point being that standardized curriculum frameworks /achievement indicators do not take into account the individual learner. They assume that individuals should be at the same place at the same time and arrive in the same fashion.

The sole purpose of standardized curriculum frameworks/achievement benchmarks are to continue to develop and align curriculum to standardized tests.

As for "the idiots", I work with them. There are areas that cannot/could not/ or will not ever be able to be measured or assessed where some learners shine.
07-10-2006 12:15 AM
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R00t Offline
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Teacher: Good Job Tommy! You learned how to write the letter A!
Student: Yaha!yaheh! And in two more years, I can do B!
Teacher: Yay! We get to waste more resources.

Standardized cirriculum works, when you have a specific task that you want the students to do. If they students can't measure up to that, then fuck 'em.

It's meant to have a means which to measure people's preformance. If they can't do something well, then that's their problem.
07-10-2006 08:02 AM
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Mom Offline
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Can you say " STANDARDISTO"?
07-13-2006 04:50 AM
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modest mouse Offline
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no

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees through narrow chinks of his cavern."
07-13-2006 05:57 AM
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The question is, can schools instill those skills in a person. I don't think so. My school course calender says that all those things will grow in the student. They were lying. I have not learnt anything in school I could have learnt faster outside it. I would not have had to deal with bullys, homework, and bad teachers.

The other reason standards don't work is because we aren't standard. How can someone who has never met me know how I learn? You could do tests to determine what type of learning type you are, but that gets rid of standards right there. It becomes tailored for the person.

But even tailoring for the person will not do. Only you can learn so you must take control of it. Teach people how to take control of their own learning, and watch the wonders they find.


Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge and experience.
~Lillian Smith

Talent develops in tranquillity, character in the full current of human life.
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09-20-2006 10:22 AM
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Freak Offline
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More wisdom from the all-knowing Kirby -applause-

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09-20-2006 11:36 AM
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