As the participants in the symposium talked about the state of teacher education in our 4 countries, I (Clive) was dismayed at the rapid movement toward requiring everyone (teachers and teacher educators) to teach the same things in the same way.
The cartoon about requiring all animals – elephants, monkeys, birds, fish, etc. – to climb the same tree kept coming to mind. This is madness. In the real world, not only are people different but we need them to be different because of the diverse tasks that have to be performed.
But it’s problematic to publicly describe standardization as madness, since conservatives have presented their position in terms of raising or maintaining standards, and we may be seen as being soft on standards.
Two strategies have occurred to me: One is to fly under the radar, teaching in a rich and individualized way while also implementing “standards.” We have to learn to DO BOTH, as much as possible.
The other strategy is to develop and publicize the argument – noted above – that diversity is needed in all walks of life, and a society that doesn’t “let a hundred flowers bloom” will not prosper. I don’t think we have been vocal and persistent enough in pressing this point.
Tug Agency http://www.tugagency.com was a fabulous place to hold the Symposium. The Tug Team are an example of very talented people who have gone far beyond the “standards” of education. They are very able and very creative — what can we learn from them about how to make education relevant and engaging?