Vicki Cobb: Why Teaching and Learning Cannot Be “Scaled Up”

“Think about it. If you remember the teacher who had the most influence on you, I’ll wager you remember nothing of substance that you learned from him. You remember how he made you feel about yourself and about the learning process. You remember how you worked and how you achieved.” -Vicki Cobb

That quote resonates with me so much as a former student and current teacher. I think of my first grader teacher, Ms. Saltvich, my AP US History teacher, Dean C. Brink, Mr. Woods, my middle school basketball coach and my college advisor, Dr. Aguirre. I remember exactly how those teachers made me feel and knew exactly what their expectations of me were. I learned so much from those mentors/teachers. That’s my goal everyday I enter the classroom as a teacher now.

“Let me explain why. The very nature of “standardized” testing runs counter to the work of educators and to the notion of America as a haven for the individual worth of each human being.”

From my perspective as an English teacher in South Korea, this is not hyperbole when Ms. Cobb states that the standardization of education is un-American. Living and working in a communal Confucian society as an American teaches you the strengths and weaknesses of a different, more conformist way of life. Without passing too much judgment on my host country, I must say that from what I see of the education system here and the box they try and fit all students in, I do not want the American education system to mimic the Korean one in any way. In fact, I bock at any comments made by the President, Arne Duncan or any ed policy leader which favorable compares the Korean ed system to that of America’s. It works for Korea and fits their culture, this is not true of America, however.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Vicki Cobb, a prolific writer of science books for children, is offended by the simplistic idea that education practices can be “scaled up,” just like manufacturing processes. Standardized testing is the quintessence of “one size fits all.”

She writes:

“Let me explain why. The very nature of “standardized” testing runs counter to the work of educators and to the notion of America as a haven for the individual worth of each human being.

“There are certain professions that are considered “high touch.” Nursing, for example, is about patient care and “care” is the operative word. Nurses deliver human kindness to people who are not at the top of their game. A patient may want a glass of water, but getting it from a robot is not the same as interacting with another human being. Teaching is another “high touch” profession. Children learn because of the relationship established between them…

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