The Fables of Aesop is out now!

Matt Damon is Right

Matt Damon is right, the things that matter most cannot be measured (I’m eager to hear the reply of the tribal conservatives who base their ideas on opposition to the enemy rather than on their own perception of reality).

But then Damon’s comments raise the greater question that conventional education answers very badly: to whom are the teachers accountable?

The answer now would seem to be the teacher’s colleges that certify them.

Standardized tests underscore the internal contradiction of progressive education. On the one hand they dream of the good nature of the child and the new world that can be built on their romantic theories of what they call freedom and unfettered expression.

On the other hand, those theories cannot survive lively feedback from actual experience, so they need a federal government to enforce their ideas. Being unnatural and impossible, their fantasies don’t survive the light of day So they need accountability structures that avoid being accountable.

But if they are supported by the federal governnment, then they will be accountable to the federal govenment (or, in a slighly better world, the state government). There’s the problem, for when the federal government holds anybody accountable, the only language they understand is the language of quantity.

The reason for this is simple: scale.

The Department of Education, a progressive conccept, is too far removed from the decision-making to know what should be done. So it is for all the rest of the education establishment.

In order to bring about the change they have wanted, the progressives have had to create a necessarily non-responsible establishment that cannot possibly know what to do in the myriad daily classroom decisions. So they use numbers to assess.

But these numbers are meaningless. They are so abstract and averaged that they undercut sound teaching by their very presence. They even undercut the unsound Romantic Roueauistic fantasies that guide classroom practice for the progressive.

Until we have a restoration of local authority where those making the decisions get rapid feedback on the effects of those decisions, instead of the present situation where those making the decisions are rewarded for their party spirit, not the soundnesss of the decisions, American education will continue to kill the spirit of the American student and communities.

So Damon is right. Get rid of standardized tests. In fact, get rid of the whole education establishment and philoosophy that brought about the context where such a silly idea could be put in place.

The people who should be marching on Washington are the parents of the children whose souls are being malnourished by the follies of the conventional school – an aggregation of internal contradictions that find their focal point in the folly of the progressive move toward standarized tests that undercuts the model of progressive education – and every other modeal as well.

Return authority to the family and American education has a minor chance.

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