July 11th, 2013

Uncommon, Not Common

Brandon Busteed:

The biggest problem with standardized testing is that it seeks standardized answers. We’re not just overinvesting in standardized testing, we’re actually testing standardization. That is to say, most standardized tests are designed to have students come up with the same answers. We’re teaching them how to be similar, not different. And although we need to test certain competencies and intelligence, it is becoming quite clear that there are many kinds of competencies and many forms of intelligence that we are not picking up on with our current testing approaches.

Gallup’s work on strengths development has shown that every human on the planet has a unique talent signature — like a fingerprint. And we’ve found that each person’s success is best determined by how well they leverage their unique talents on a daily basis. Not by trying to be the same as others. And not by trying to “fix their weaknesses.”

I ask this all the time to my parent friends: Why do you want your kids to be common? Why do they all need a “common core” of answers and skills? The answers are almost always around “well, everyone needs to read and write and do math.” Sure, I agree. But we don’t want every kid to read and write and do math in the same way, to the same level, do we?

How about we focus on developing kids as “uncommon” learners? 

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