Are national standards a bad thing?

February 4, 2010
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We are reluctant to tell our kids they aren’t as fast/clever/strong as the next kid because we don’t want them feeling a sense of failure (gotta save the fun stuff for when they’re all grown up) but don’t we, as parents, need to know if our offspring are actually doing okay in the world? And don’ t our children need to know that not everyone can be good at everything?

I can understand some of the fears about “labelling” our children but  how well is the system working when our children are getting to high school with bugger all in the way of literacy skills? I regularly see the results of our “education” system: teenagers and beyond who can’t spell, don’t know what an apostrophe is, can’t properly punctuate a sentence to save themselves and have an inability to do much more than basic addition without the aid of a calculator.

I was chatting to a couple of former colleagues the other day when we were approached by a bloke with a clipboard. That always makes me nervous. People with clipboards usually have strong political views and a strong desire to convert you to their way of thinking. In this case, the political view was “down with national standards”.

Clipboard Man also had pamphlets, which he offered us as a group. One of my former colleague dudes took a pamphlet and wiggled an eyebrow in what I suppose could indicate interest. This gave Clipboard Man his chance: “would you like to sign the petition?”

Eyebrow Wiggler said he would (“I’ll sign anything” he muttered jokingly). The moment Eyebrow Wiggler had finished autographing the petition, Clipboard Man grabbed his equipment (the clipboard that is, keep your mind/s out of the gutter) and he was off down the street to ambush another random passerby.

Did he ask if I wanted to sign the petition? No. Did he ask the third person in our group (a non-wiggler of eyebrows but still capable of signing his name)? No.

Perhaps Clipboard Man is a walking example of why we need national standards.

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