Everyone is talking about tougher standards, increased accountability, and the need for higher test scores. On one level, it all sounds very appealing - and, indeed, state after state has pushed to "raise the bar" and impose testing programs with high stakes attached.
But one prominent and respected voice is crying out to us to stop and reflect on this stampede - a voice that asks us to examine what is truly being done to our students and teachers in the name of tougher standards.
Alfie Kohn, nationally renowned lecturer and author of The Schools Our Children Deserve, as well as Punished by Rewards and numerous other books and articles on education, offers a powerful argument against the obsession with standardized tests and the tendency to place so much emphasis on student performance that the process of learning becomes endangered.
He presents a compelling case that a preoccupation with raising standards may have exactly the opposite effect. Instead of motivating students to learn and teachers to excel, it will create a system driven by coercion, a fear of failure, and unrelenting competition between students, teachers, and schools - all of which undermine excellence.
This video is essential viewing for all individuals who care about education. Before you get on the "standards bandwagon," make sure to listen to Alfie Kohn's case. He might just cause you to reconsider.
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