Alfie Kohn Rejects National Standards

Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010 Guest Speaker Alfie Kohn has published a stunning new article, Debunking the Case for National Standards: One-Size-Fits-All Mandates and Their Dangers. It should be required reading for anyone concerned with democracy and long-term viability of public education. I’ve often said that national standards, even those thinly disguised under mischievous pseudonyms like “common core standards” are not only a destructive force, but a solution in search of a problem. Alfie Kohn makes the case quite effectively.

Mr. Kohn once again demonstrates his courage, tenacity and chutzpah by publishing his new article in Education Week’s special “Quality Counts” issue. “Quality Counts” is the annual issue sponsored by standardized testing companies who rank each state’s educational quality as a function of their reliance on high-stakes testing, teacher-bashing, punitive and anti-democratic education policies. The more draconian the state, the higher their “quality,” according to Education Week.

So if students don’t benefit from uniformity, who does? Presumably corporations that sell curriculum materials and tests can reduce their costs if one text fits all. And then there are the policy makers who confuse doing well with beating others. If you’re determined to evaluate students or schools in relative terms, it helps if they’re all doing the same thing. But why would we want to turn learning into a competitive sport? (Alfie Kohn, 2010)

Although Kohn’s article discusses the issue in a US context, his message is equally powerful for citizens of Australia, New Zealand or other contries chasing the delusion of standardized curricula for all children, in all schools, in all classrooms.


Spend time with Alfie Kohn this July!

Alfie Kohn joins Deborah Meier, James Loewen, Peter Reynolds, Gary Stager, Cynthia Solomon, Brian Silverman, Sylvia Martinez and John Stetson on the faculty of Constructing Modern Knowledge, a four-day minds-on workshop for educators – July 12-15, 2010 in Manchester, NH USA (near Boston).

Click here for additional information and to take advantage of the early-bird registration discount offered for a limited time.

CMK 2010

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