“Terminator” Realities

So, I recently traveled to Orlando to meet a friend and their daughter for her semi-senior trip to Disney World and Universal Studios. It’s just fun to be a kid and carefree for a week, riding rides, eating unique places, being the quintessential camera-packing tourist. Then, we came to the Terminator 2 ‘ride’, remembering it is a 3-D film with live actors playing into the show. The Cyberdyne intro begins and I am struck by the apocalyptic view for humanity as everything is entrusted to the automated technology of computers; all for our well being and continued prosperity and peace. The description of education was, basically, disturbingly accurate in the wake of the common core roll out and the upcoming release of the Next Generation of Science Standards. The goal outlined in the ride, to paraphrase since I cannot remember verbatim, was to have a class in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles being taught roughly at the same time, ‘by the same teacher, covering the same material.” But, it was only fiction, right? Except the sheer efficiency described seems to mirror current ideals advocated by many in the upper echelons of policy-making whose beliefs are reflected and put into practice through high-stakes testing. I do know it’s not all bad; in so far as there is a certain amount of basic understanding all students should have. To deny this would simply perpetuate the divide between the have’s and have not’s, reinforcing the existing oligarchy. So, I can understand why standards are embraced as, to some extent, they offer a more egalitarian approach. At least they serve as an attempt to level the playing field, reinforcing the ideal of hard work and success and access via education. Personally, I find the standards extreme as disturbing as the idea that content shouldn’t drive a class. They both equally disenfranchise a particular part of the population while limiting or boxing in the practice of learning; attempting to define something often qualitative as only quantitative. Neither is the sole solution, and as is typical in education, the truth and success, lie somewhere in the ugly, fuzzy middle.

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