10 – Education “Let’s Go Fishing”

 

The 2016 Electoral College results, for ages 18-25, would have been over 500 votes to under 25 vote in favor of Hillary Clinton. I do not know the exact connection between that statistic and this blog but it is what fueled these thoughts. How can 95% of this demographic results be so overwhelming? Especially when the choice was two flawed candidates.

 Education – “Going Fishing” – Its Local

Is ignorance a bad thing?  If one has never been exposed to information, then how can they be expected to know.  A doctor would prescribe a dose of education to cure ignorance. The process may seem simple but it is not. What the good doctor prescribes for both sickness and ignorance has to be approved by a governmental agency. The Food and Drug Administration certifies the medical prescription just as the Department of Education certifies conscription into public education.

The word educate comes from the Latin word educare, which means “to draw out that which lies within.” The educational system should be an active process involving a series of stimuli and a response. In education we distinguish between the two. The stimulus is most often provided by the teacher and the response is drawn out of the student.

The responsibility of the teacher is to present information and the responsibility of the student is to respond to it. In its simplest form, the educational process allows for the teachers to use a variety of tools to draws out raw and honest responses from the students. However, the education process begins after the initial response is drawn out.

It is the dialog, a conversation, created between the two parties that is invaluable. Adversarial positions should be encouraged in order to express all opinions from all sides of the discussion. The exchanging of ideas promotes diversity of thought. Diversity is required in order to explore the topics in depth.

I would be naïve not to think that this process would be free of prejudice. Pre judgment is part of the drawing out and in many cases the information going in. Pre judgment abounds. Pre judgments are generated by geographical, cultural, religious, racial, sexual, economical, basically all environmental and social exposures.

The environmental and social situations we experience are unique to all individuals. Any one or combination of the above pre judgments are the bases of our diversity. It is our differences that impact the processing of information. Pre judgments lead to different conclusion from processing the same information.  After all diversity means different.

Diversity has to be considered in the educational process. Let’s “go fishing”. On the island of Martha’s Vineyard if I am asked by a friend, “do you want to go fishing? “My logical conclusion is that we would be going salt water fishing in the ocean. If this same situation occurred in the North Country of New Hampshire, less that 200 miles away, the conclusion would be different. The going fishing would indicate fresh water fishing in a stream, a river or a lake.

The conclusions are different because they are based upon pre judgments. However, both assumptions are more than likely correct. Why? Because the conclusions were arrived at by two independent, geographical diverse fishermen.

Let’s stay with the fishing venue. Change the question to “what would you need to go fishing?” The most obvious responses by both fishermen would be a fishing pole and some sort of bait. However, if the same question is asked of a commercial fisherman in New Bedford, less than 30 miles from Martha’s Vineyard, the response may be a boat, fuel and nets.

These questions produce diverse responses, yet all of the “answers” are correct. This may cause havoc with the validity of an assessment. To judge the level of correctness of these responses is difficult and can be arbitrary. So who then should be empowered to assess the quality of the response?

Consider this, would the assessment of the fishing responses differ between a Midwestern educator than that of an Atlantic Coast educator? Again, so who should assess the quality of the response? I say the most local educator, the one I know, the one I can call, text, e-mail or even meet face to face. Why opt for a disconnected evaluator?

When a distant assessor is put in charge we lose the local pre judgments and local interpretations. The US Department of Education clearly believes that education from the top down is preferential. This exhibits the arrogance of a governmental agency “we know what is best for you.” theory. The local communities are the patches that make up the quilt of society. Bottom up must be promoted to save the community school.

The true injustice of this system is amplified by the weight that we have assigned to the results of standardized testing. They have become the fare required to take you to the next grade level, a diploma and even the college of your choice. Is this process fair? I say no. It is discriminatory and unjust. We have created a faceless distant bureaucracy to be the gatekeeper in charge of “entry into the club.”

The local teacher, the local administration and the local school board must be independent in order to select the needs and direction of the community. When assessment and curriculum development are controlled locally real diversity of thought is allowed to flourish. Local control is personal and nurtures students not statistics.

Standardized testing selects national or global essential understandings. Whether it is Washington DC or the state, standardized testing is turning local control over to an intervening agency. The priorities of the two do not necessarily reflect the needs of the local community and its neighborhoods. The locally elected school board is beholden to their citizens while state and national boards are beholden a political boss that may change every four years

Think local because, in reality, the community is our only jurisdiction. Teachers of previous generations were valued based upon their ability to define challenging essential understanding. Their evaluations were connected to their ability to draw thoughtful and independent response from their students. An invested teacher is a better teacher.

Standardization is coercive and regressive. Teachers are not only expected “to lead the horse to a designated watering hole” but to enforce their consumption and regulate how to drink. When a central authority is allowed to uses: extortion for funding; compulsory taxes: evaluations; certifications; licenses and accreditations; to “collaborate” with local districts it is clear that our schools have become servants.

Standardization of “truths” and thought become a byproduct of this system. If there is a reward for standard response, then standard processing of thought is controlled. Social justice warriors, conservatives and progressives need to understand its impact. Standardizations lead to a clean and pristine society in lock step with a distant cadence. Whether standardization occurs in education or in politically correct speech it is stifling.  The result is a society void of non conformity. The patchwork quilt becomes a one flavor utilitarian blanket.

A standardized society is destructive. A standardized society is a selective society. Historically, standardized evaluations have been used to justify atrocities. They were misused in the 1920’s by the Eugenics movement. That movement targeted thousands of individuals for sterilization. Nazi Germany took standardized achievement results to the limit, extermination.

95% to 5% is a loud statement. Hell 95% of the population cannot even agree upon the color of a dress. When one’s future is predicated upon appeasing a master the compliant are rewarded while those of independent and critical thoughts are nullified. The safest choice may be conformity but is also the most dangerous.

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