Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fast food culture in our schools...

Through Tim's post here at Assorted Stuff, he quotes and links to Sir Ken Robinson's acceptance speech about our education here in the US (he is an American citizen by the way). I like the quote that Tim includes from the speech:

There are two models of quality control, quality assurance in the catering business. One of them is standardizing and that’s the model that informs the growth of the fast food industry.

So, if you have a favorite fast food outlet, you know which ever one you go to, wherever it happens to be, it will be exactly what you’re expecting and exactly the same as all the other ones.

It’s all horrible but it’s guaranteed.

The other model is like the Michelin Guide or the Zagat guide. What they do is establish a criteria for excellence, very high standards, much higher than those of the fast food people.

But they don’t tell you how to do it, they don’t tell you what to put on the menu, they don’t tell you who to hire, and they don’t tell you what the place should look like.

The way they figure out if you’re any good is they send people who know all about it to see if you’re doing it. And if you’re doing it you’re in the guide and if you’re not, you’re not.

And the result of this is that every one of these restaurants is great, and they’re all different. And they’re different because they use local produce, appeal to local markets, local circumstances and are customized.

I believe this is the only answer for the future. We have to recognize the heart of education improvement is improving the experience of individual learners and treating each school individually and not as a mass.

There isn’t a kid in the country who will get out of bed wondering how to improve the nations reading standards. They will get out of bed to improve their reading. It’s a very personal business.

I am not fond of NCLB and testing. In fact, I believe it is doing great harm. What is required to truly customize is a very different way of thinking. As people continue to be disenchanted with education, more and more customized charter schools may be cropping up to solve the problem. Perhaps that is what is needed to truly bring change.

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