October 14, 2009
This and next week I am raising objections to the idea that new standards — particularly new national standards — are worth the attention they get. It is ridiculous to think that they can be a meaningful lever of broad educational improvement. In fact, I do not think that they can have any significant impact at all.
Problem #4: Classrooms
I have never heard a teacher declare that s/he was going to change what they were teaching because of something s/he saw in a standards document. Never.
I have known teachers and other educators to look through standards and declare what they like or do not like. I have heard them say that they approve of certain changes and not approve of others. But no one has ever said that they have to stop doing something because it fell out of the standards or that they need to start something new because it is in the standards.
The fact is that teachers already know what they want to do in their classes. Whether or not you or I agree or approve of their ideas, they already have them. The ideas could have developed during their own days in school, during their preparation, from things they have read, from discussions or experiences with colleagues or any number of other ways. I suppose that, in theory, reading standards documents could shape these ideas, but I have never seen any evidence of it, and I doubt that you have, either.