Children are not ours to standardise

It’s interesting to step back and reflect on the relative value we’ve come to put on things in life.

Memorise complex mathematical formulas, structure an essay, correctly format your references, write neatly with a ballpoint pen, interpret Shakespeare, and understand every significant and not-so-significant event and person related to World War Two? Everyone should know that stuff.

Play an instrument, master an art medium, build things with your hands, grow a garden, prepare a meal, sing, dance, use your imagination, and understand money and debt? We’ll do a bit of that, but it’s just not as important.

The world is the version it is today because we have an education factory building a specific product that makes it so. An outcome has been defined for us and there are standards, expectations, averages and tests to measure our progress as we make our way toward it.

But you cannot standardise people, at least not without collateral damage, and one day we’ll look back in shock that we tried. Every human being on this planet is exceptional in their own way. Every person ever born, and every person that will ever be born, is absolutely one of a kind. And if the system we put our children through to prepare them for adult life doesn’t respect that at its core then we should be choosing our own individual path or demanding the system’s foundation be re-laid. Or, both.

We’re still asking each new generation to live within the same standardised boundaries we know haven’t worked for millions of children, but there’s a ground swell of people starting to believe that those boundaries are – and always have been – far too tight.

And there’s something else important to believe, too – that those boundaries, standards and expectations are only as real and empowered as we let them be ????


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