Sunday, December 30, 2012

When Excellence is a Single Standardized Measure

from here
When a nation standardizes its tests and then relies on that single measure as its primary definition of excellence, learning is doomed and with it freedom.  At a national level,  the standardized measurement coupled with the weight of its value limits what can be considered as important knowledge regardless of initial intention. To limit what is important knowledge especially at a time when information is no longer considered scarce is of course, ironic. But it is also very misdirected, as it is the suppression of  thought, voice, and agency that is most crippling to individuals and groups and will do the most harm.

Considered what Antoine Mas wrote decades ago about standardization (as quoted by Jacques Ellul in The Technological Society, pp. 11-12, 1954)
"Standardization means resolving in advance all the problems that might possibly impede the functioning of an organization. It is not a matter of leaving it to inspiration, ingenuity, nor even intelligence to find a solution at the moment some difficulty arises; it is rather in some way to anticipate both the difficulty and its resolution. from then on standardization creates impersonality, in the sense that organization relies more on methods and instruction than on individuals."
Is there nothing that lessens desire more than to live in a world that has been scripted?  We have known this for a long time and yet each 'new crisis' allows those with political and economic power to dictate bad practices and impose their will on the masses.


  1. Replies
    1. Hope the idea catches on and those with lots of power begin to understand that their very solutions are problems.

  2. Bravo! Who else reads Jacques Ellul, besides you, me, and Sonia? Ellul so dreaded the reduction of all of us to a number, and it looks like his worst fears are coming true.