Sunday, February 04, 2007

The symphony of CST criticism: Burn down the mission

"Standards and assessments are wrong."
Fair enough. We should all have an opinion on that matter, and we're likely to disagree with one another. Nothing wrong with that. Some of my best friends in the biz are mortally opposed to standards and assessments. Nevertheless, here we are. Standards and assessments are the reality on the ground. Like them or not, here they are.

Some say that the standards and assessment in physics should be openly opposed by the AAPT. And that if physics teachers organized, we could put an end to the tyranny. The harsh reality is that we could not. Standards and assessment in physics is but one brick in the Standards and assessment fortress. Chemistry, biology, and earth science have them, too. As does math, English, and social studies. As do the lower grades and subject-areas. We might peck away at one brick, but bringing the whole fortress down is at least an order of magnitude harder.

In any case, I cannot do much about the existence of standards and assessments from my position on the Assessment Review Panel. Efforts to abolish standards and assessment should be directed to the state legislature. But don't hold your breath.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All the arguments for standards come down to one unfortunate truth: there is a group of people, who both feel its their God-given right and duty to tell the rest of us what to do. Henry David Thoreau, one of the greatest champions of freedom of human thought wrote, "If I knew a man was coming to do me good, I would run from him." One wonders what impact "Walden" would have had if Thoreau had crafted it based on set of standards. But why stop with standard for physics? Why not standards for raising children, having a human relationship, writing a decent physics lab manual, playing golf, petting your cat, or anything you might care to imagine? Most of us would find this sort of thing as burdensome as it was meddlesome. Why should physics teaching be any different? As teachers our goal should be to inspire thinking and understanding of our world based on our own hard-won knowledge of our subject, experience, creativity, and imagination. Away with the tyranny of standard writers! Let's consign them to the dustbin of history, along with the primacy of the papacy, the authority of the prophet, and the divine right of kings.