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One Size Fits Few: The Folly of Educational Standards 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0325001586
ISBN-10: 0325001588
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“We're lucky to have someone like Susan Ohanian who is willing to take on all the pious nonsense about Standards.”–Alfie Kohn, Author of Punished by Rewards and No Contest

“Ohanian's work is a refreshing call to action. . . . This will hit a responsive note with many school leaders.”–The School Administrator

About the Author

Susan Ohanian is a longtime teacher and free-lance writer whose articles have appeared in periodicals ranging from the Atlantic and Washington Monthly to Phi Delta Kappan and Education Week. Visit www.susanohanian.org for a wealth of information on education issues and to learn more about Susan Ohanian. You'll find commentary, cartoons, letters, resources, quotes and a word of the day offering children a provocative way to increase their vocabulary. Her email address is: susano@gmavt.net.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 17 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 12
  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann; 1 edition (March 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0325001588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0325001586
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,277,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
One Size Fits Few by Susan Ohanian contains more citations than I've ever seen in a single reading! One can't accuse this author of not doing her research before writing this book. Virtually every statement she makes is backed up by a reference to a well known public figure or educator.
Throughout the book, the author makes numerous cases against the use of educational standards. At the heart of these multifarious denouncements is the recurring theme that standards are dehumanizing. At one point she reminds us of some essential life skills that are usually ignored when standards are created: "The great words of teaching are the one syllable ones: read, write, teach, learn, work, skill, care, help, hope, trust, faith, love. And the greatest of these, of course, is love." (p.127)
Although the author is not in favor of senseless educational standards, we can infer that in order for successful learning to take place, we must answer to some "higher" "standards," those which recur universally within the context of being a good human being. As a long time educator, those are the standards I must strive to have my students attain.
The book is outstandingly well written and thought provoking. Its 7 chapters are divided among 3 sections. The chapters include Ohanian's observations and views, recounted in the form of anecdotes; each under its own title. The language is simple and down to earth. One can start reading this book from any page and still gain wit, wisdom, and fact.
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By A Customer on December 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is funny and sad at the same time. Ohanian does a great job of exposing the folly of the current standards and testing mania that has hit the US educational systems. Any publicly elected official that proposes high stakes testing needs to be forced to take the test he/she proposes and have his/her test score printed in the local paper. High stakes are for tomatoes. Stop high-stakes testing!
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Format: Paperback
It was about time someone spoke up against "standardization" in education. Sure, you can standardize computers, cars and olive oil, but anybody who has been around a kid for more than a few minutes would know that this kind of talk is doomed to failure. This book is alternately aggravating, hilarious, and sad; aggravating that so many people with so little understanding of teaching and learning are dictating what should go on in the classroom; hilarious when we see what the results of that standarization are (Virgil's experience with "penis parts" is destined to be a classic), and sadness that millions of children are going to be turned away from the joy and romance of learning by the arrogance of the "Standardistos." I hope this book is just the first shot across the bow.
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Format: Paperback
I haven't read it cover to cover yet, but so far it's great and makes tremendous sense. The new tests like Washingon's WASL, Maryland's MSPAP expect kids demonstrate absurdly advanced skills with absolutely no direct instruction on how to solve these problem, the Maryland 9th grade social studies is absolutely insane what they expect to pack the entire world history into one year at a graduate college level.
The whole idea of "high standards for all" is the classic "if it's too good to be true, it probably is". How can one standard be good enough for every job from mopping the floors up to designing ultrasound machine software?
In a different way, this book stands up for truly traditional education, which never held up _all_ student to one high standard. Thank you for writing this, this is the first volley that will eventually spell doom for the misguided standards based reform movement.
Arthur Hu Candidate Superintendent of Instruction WA 2000
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Format: Paperback
By the end of this book, all school reformers assuming that standardization of the curriculum improves quality will...
... recognize and understand the detrimental impact of educational standards.
... use the proofreader's deletion mark to eliminate standardization.

The title of a section in chapter 7 is "If You're Sure You Know The Solution, You Are Part Of The Problem." How true of many of the "school reformers" today who think THEY have all of the answers when THEY are not even in the classrooms! As is often the case with "education reform," those who are in the classrooms on a daily basis (teachers and students) are excluded from the debate - their voices lost in the sea of sound bites coming from those Ohanian refers to as "corporate-politico-infotainment standardistos."
As Ohanian so concisely demonstrates in this book, the idea for education standards comes to us from the business world. What those "corporate standardistos" fail to realize is a simple (and yet major) difference between a classroom and a business office. In a business setting, if you have an employee that is slowing down production, lagging behind, refusing to do the work required, having problems working as a team player, and displaying a lack of concentration or focus, what do you think happens to that employee? The obvious answer is the reason a public school classroom is not like a business, has never been like a business, and will never be like a business. The moral here is STOP trying to "reform" schools like you would a business.
The current buzzword in "education reform" is accountability. I happen to agree that we need more accountability.
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