15 February 2007

Homogenized Education

Quite a while back I posed the (mostly) rhetorical question, "Why doesn't every child have an IEP?"

I was brought back to this train of thought recently by a passage in Roy Richard Grinker's Unstrange Minds (emphasis is mine):

To be sure, debate is brewing about whether some of the these higher-functioning children should be classified as autistic or even disabled. Some disability experts contend that the problems encountered in educating children with Asperger's Disorder lie less with the individual child than with the educational system. The U.S. educational system, they suggest, has disseminated Asperger's Disorder as a category because it is useful to its attempt to make the student body as homogeneous as possible. The paradox they identify is that a child who doesn't fit in has to be seen as somehow impaired in order to justify an effort to normalize him.
This trend toward 'homogenized education,' an attempt to make sure that everyone* learns the same thing in the same way, reminds me of many - mostly misguided - attempts to do something similar in business. If you've ever heard the term Business Process Engineering, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

The fallacy in this approach, of course, is that education and learning are not processes that lend themselves to efficiency. Not perfect efficiency, anyway. That's not to say that their aren't things that can be done to improve the process.

But identifying a process and then trying to make everyone adhere to, and excel in, that process just won't work in education (just like it doesn't work in business).

* An exception to this are the "gifted" children, which I wrote about here.

2 comments:

mcewen said...

I doubt if there is a perfect education system. It's the nature of the beast to have to homogeneous system when there are Federal tax dollars at work, but I'd certainly adhere to the IEP for every child philosophy.
Cheers

Anonymous said...

Indeed...my neighbor's daughter, who is NT, is struggling in school. The teacher told this worried mother that her daughter needed private tutoring, which my neighbor absolutely cannot afford. No IEP for this kid, because she is "normal" ...