Thursday, February 18, 2010

Standardized Stagnation

One aspect of the Montessori approach I love is that it is not standardized.  All children are treated as individuals, with education meaning something different for each child.  Certainly, there are basics we all need but our path to achieving that knowledge may be very different from another person's path.  Alfie Kohn has written quite a bit about standardized testing and what being educated can mean.  Consider this:
"Are our schools in trouble because they have lowered their standards and strayed too far from the basics? Just the opposite: if American students are getting less than they deserve, it's due to simplistic demands to "raise the bar" and an aggressive nostalgia for traditional teaching.
Alfie Kohn, the author of critically acclaimed works on such subjects as competition and rewards, now turns the conventional wisdom about education on its head. In this landmark book, he shows how the "back-to-basics" philosophy of teaching treats children as passive receptacles into which forgettable facts are poured. Likewise, shrill calls for Tougher Standards are responsible for squeezing the intellectual life out of classrooms. Such political slogans reflect a lack of understanding about how and why kids learn, and they force teachers to spend time preparing students for standardized tests instead of helping them to become critical, creative thinkers" (from the flap of  The Schools Our Children Deserve:  Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards").  Alfie Kohn's website is


  1. Wow, great and timely reading! Although I wish I could've read it before our most recent parent education session... Well, I'm sure there will be more! Thanks for the link!

  2. I'm reading it right now and loving it!