Proficiency Based Learning III

02/26/18, 8:00 AM

Proficiency Based Learning III

So we write and talk and chat about proficiency based learning, and we make assumptions.  One of those assumptions is that the assessment methods for “traditional” learning and proficiency based learning are always the same.

Not only are the methods different, but the fundamental assumptions are different.

Let’s begin with the assumptions behind “traditional” learning.  In the traditional classroom, students learn materials presented by the teacher, take a test and receive grades.  That’s how most of us learned.

There are some assumptions behind that traditional learning.  First, that students learn at the same rate.  Second, that students learn in the same way. Third that students produce results on the same kinds of tests. Fourth that students are “ranked” according to their performance.

Yet, we know students learn differently, at different rates, in different ways, and produce different results.  

With some 100 trillion different neural connections in the brain, the assumption that all students learn in the same way is a pretty preposterous idea.  That assumption would indicate that every child with some 100 trillion neural connections will form exactly the same connections at the same time and in the same pathway.

The great challenge of traditional learning paradigms is that a factory model of education will produce standardized adults - a factory producing workers for factories.

The assumptions that education’s job is to produce standardized adults needs to change - we need to be focused on what students know are and are able to do.  The goal of modern education should not be a class rank, but a statement about skills and abilities.


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