Sunday, April 17, 2016

Reformers Harm American Education with Monoculture Focus

Standardization and a one-size-fits-all education system is antithetical to the entire history of American education, which has long been grounded in local control, autonomy, and individuality. Concerns about the myopic micro-focus are well expressed by Denver-area teacher Kurt MacDonald in his recent commentary for the Denver Post.

Through their tireless work to propagate "optimally designed curriculum" to schools across the country, they are breeding a monoculture in education and destroying the diversity of ideas that provides fuel for creative, dynamic scholarship. This trend is further compounded by state and national assessments that operate to standardize the content and approach classroom teachers take to education. When a majority of tomorrow's jobs and challenges have yet to be imagined, our students require the diversity of thought necessary to tackle them. Knowing this impending challenge, we need an educational paradigm promoting a cornucopia of educational approaches, not one that collapses down to a homogenous method, no matter how historically effective. Whether it is in dog breeding or ecosystems, the cost of limiting diversity is profound.

Sadly, innovative people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and David Coleman are promoting homogeneous curricula, lessons, and standards in heterogeneous classes in complete contrast to the environments in which they grew and thrived. People promoting such conformity have little experience with or understanding of the incredible diversity of teaching environments in this country. And their political power serves to further reduce the scope of a dynamic liberal arts approach. Thanks to Kurt MacDonald for his thoughtful piece - but unless readers can and will assert their concerns to policymakers, we will continue to see the narrowing of education that ultimately services only standardized test and educational materials companies like Pearson and College Board.

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