« Who Supports National Curriculum Standards? | Main | Sam Brownback: I Need to Think More About Sebelius and Abortion »

April 20, 2009


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Would National Standards Threaten Creative Teaching?:


You have a good point that standards can be clear yet open enough to allow for flexibility and creativity by teachers (and students) in meeting those standards - flexibility that is necessary if schools are to nurture young people's individuality and help teachers continue to be excited about teaching.

But I hesitate when it comes to how those standards are used. Do they set the stage for high-stakes standardized assessments that necessarily defeat any hope for creativity and flexibility? I am wary that those assessment practices are at the root of many who favor national standards. Their goal seems to be to determine quick ways to say who is learning and who is not. Yet young people (indeed all people) are much more than a score on a test, and indeed such tests and the standardization and stress that goes along with them alienate young people, turn them off from learning, and lead many to drop-out of school. Assessment can be much more individualized and used as a tool rather than linked to high-stakes consequences.

To me this means that any approval of standards must not only be open and flexible (a la Finland's which you mention, or even more focused on qualities and skills and less on specific facts), but just as importantly standards must be understood as guides for teachers and students and not used for the high-stakes determination of a student's worth or a teacher's quality.

(I know the current trend towards greater teacher quality would dismiss my comments. On the contrary, I agree that teacher quality needs to be considered more highly. But instead of using tests to assess that, I'd suggest using student and fellow teacher surveys, observations, and discussions among students, teachers, and administration to determine whether teachers respect young people, inspire them, and are supportive of their learning).

To summarize: standards in and of themselves are beneficial, provided they recommend a focus on the most important qualities and skills we wish to develop in our citizens. But the minute they are tied to mandated assessments and high-stakes accountability, they get distorted and become instruments that damage young people, teachers, and the quality of our schools.

Dear Dr. Bennis,
I kindly ask you for a simple information:
whatis is finnish word for curriculum in official Finnish documents?
Sincerely, Vladimir Paar

P.S. An interesting model of connection national education standards - national curriculum you can find in Austria

The comments to this entry are closed.