The Myth of a Standardized Education

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Her pale blue eyes burn icy cold as she recounts her latest test results. "They changed professors three days before the test. How does that make sense? It's good that they let the other professor go, he wasn't teaching us anything, but they shouldn't have given us our new teacher's test. She actually teaches us stuff, but we hadn't learned any of that yet!"

We are people, not robots. With a robot, we can send a properly coded command and the machine will execute as directed. Make another robot like the first and you'll get the same results. Build a factory to replicate these machines, and you'll get a bunch of uniform actions. This is great for tools like cars and computers and cellphones. But we humans are a tricky bunch. We filter and react to the world differently. And teachers don't teach raw information. Instead, they teach to their test.

This isn't really a problem unless you're hoping to create a standardized education.

In the real world, we need to learn how to adapt to the varying needs of those around us. And with a lifetime of learning ahead of us, we couldn't possibly teach everything there is to know in a few short years. There will be gaps. And if you were to, somehow, create an education that teaches everyone the same material, you'd just have a uniformly ignorant group.

But a standardized education isn't possible. Teachers will emphasize the things they are passionate about and gloss over the elements that seem less important. Classes, not to mention students, will move through the content at different speeds. Let us pretend, for a moment, that we agreed every 4 year old needed to know that 1+1=2. What if a child came to us who didn't know this fact but had already learned to read? What do we do with a child who, like me, couldn't read until well after the "acceptable" time frame? If we decide to cast them off as freaks or failures, we still don't have a standardized education. We have the masses who are "on board" and the outcasts who have been left in the ocean.

If test results change when you get a new teacher with a new test, you don't have a standardized education. The sooner we admit this, the more quickly we can release our students to soar in the life-long journey of learning. Abandon this mad pursuit of a standardized education in favor of the far more useful drive to inspire a life-long love of learning.

As homeschoolers, we're giving our students a non-standard education. Embrace that. The same is true of great professors at top universities around the world.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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