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Letter to the editor: Schools could use a little renewal

The Renewal School System legislation is a good idea that has taken far too long to come to light.

Several years ago, Mike Mickelwright wrote in Quality Digest that we have “an educational system and certain quality processes that attempt to standardize us so that we are closer to being the same.” While I want a product such as an automobile, television, phone or coffee pot to be standardized, it is bad for education.

In industry, it is important that products can be reproduced over and over with the same characteristics from one unit to the next and from one day to the next. This is the pure definition of quality — a product that can be reproduced and predictable in its performance. The goal is to remove as much variation in the manufacturing process as possible.

Unfortunately, standardized testing and school performance grading have created a great disservice to students and the community.

Our education system uses quality processes that attempt to standardize students so that they are the same. It attempts to minimize the natural variation that God created. In the thinking of a quality control expert, variation is evil and must be eliminated.

Standardized testing is aimed at a “normal” student. The curriculum is designed to make sure the students do well on the standardized tests and when they do, more funding becomes available. Therefore, the teachers teach to the test. The grade or score becomes important — not knowledge.

The school becomes a job to the student and they lose their natural desire to learn. They do learn how to work within the system and not challenge it. Those who challenge the system are “disrupters” and are referred to counseling. Those who can’t or don’t learn normally are often made to feel like failures.

In reality, they just have differently wired brains and learn differently. They are often called stupid and are the butt of many jokes.

As one who taught in higher education, I had some of these students. It took a while to figure out how they learned, but once I began to teach with a method that they could understand, their learning was amazing.

 

I hope that the RSS can become a renewal system and get away from some of the control that tends to make everyone alike.

— Franklin Merrell
Salisbury

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