Monday, November 18, 2013

People are not standardized

I was trying to figure out, from my post Taking Back My Own, why I still felt uneasy after posting it and getting all my feelings and thoughts out. Last night, it hit me as an epiphany.

Our children are not standardized. I have said many times, you can not use quantitative methods for qualitative data. People are qualitative. Saying everyone, at, say, age 30 will have two kids, a sports car, 2,000 square foot home, and earn $ 90,000 a year as an accountant, is really the same as saying every child in 5th grade will plot a simple equation on a graph, or, in my case, every two year old will know 7 body parts.

You can standardize machinery or a process but not peope!

Sure, if a graduation senior in high school hasn't a clue how to punctuate a sentence or multiply 3 x 1/2, you havea problem. But to say that child must perform those skills proficiently at an exact age ignores child development theory. Sure we all reach a skill at around the same window of time, but that's just...that. There are anomalies who are still "normal" and the like.

And standards are arbitrary.

For child development under age 3, my child is supposed to go up stairs alternating feet or else it indicates a problem. Sure, he can gallop, skip, throw over and underhand, kick and aim a ball with his toes and side of his foot, but he doesn't alternate feet so there's a "problem".

Sure. he cannot point and name 7 body parts (sorry folks, only 5) but he knows all his colors and can actually not just count to ten but count items up to five, as in one cheerio, two cheerio... but again he is "behind".

He is still learning boy vs girl so yep,, you guessed it, he is behind. But this arbitrary "benchmark" ignores the fact that he can operate the wii remote, xbox remote, and my husband's tablet to operate netflix. He chooses the movie he wants and can fast forward to or replay a favorite scene. Instead of thinking inside the box and clicking the back button to return to the main screen, he fast forwards the movie to the end so it returns to the home screen. He can also open a drawing app on my nook, draw an image, and save it to the desktop, something I even struggle with.

But you know, because some yahoo decided some weird benchmarks, my kid is "behind".

Sure. If he can't walk, he is behind. That's a given. But since instead of pointing when someone says "show me the picture of the doggy", he pants and licks the picture and barks, that's "behind" even though not only did he point (well, with his tongue) he imitates the animal's behaviors.

When I was a young child, I had an IQ test and tested 137. The assessor said my score was surely higher but he could only give me the 137. See, I have horrid vision (my worst eye is 20/1000!) and so my hand-eye coordination was "behind". So when doing the IQ tasks, the assessor could see my mind at work, my eyes staring at things, I'd even say what I was trying to do but my hands fumbled or my lack of depth perception meant I grabbed the wrong item. So I scored lower than I could have. I SAID what needed to be performed but since it sometimes took two grabs to grab an item, that meant I was "slow". Because the test specified "grab..." not "say..."

Standardizing our children ignores what they CAN do and points out what they CANNOT do.

This is a problem with NCLB and Common Core. A child might find circumferences of items for fun at age eight, but because they cannot do base-ten subtraction with blocks, they "fail". They internalize their failure, and might end up finding no joy in circumferences because it isn't valued by the school. They may learn to hate learning and feel they are stupid. Is this what we want for our children?

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