A Brief Post on Standards

In manufacturing, the expected performance of the product is well-defined; we know how to measure performance and our methods can usually be tested. We build prototype systems, compare the outcomes with the standards, then discard those systems that don’t work. The prototyping and testing can be done in highly-controlled circumstances as well. Further, manufacturers who find the natural resources or other materials needed for the production to be substandard there are steps that can be taken to resolve the problems.

In education, few of the options available to manufacturers are available: Educators are charged with preparing students for the future, and for the most recent generations, the future has been unpredictable in a way that it was not for their parents and grand-parents. We might predict what we must “manufacture” in schools, but we cannot know for sure if the standard is really worthy–and it is almost never questioned. Students have only one chance to complete their education, so prototyping and discarding is not possible. Further—at least in the United States—an appropriate education is provided to each and every child and the financial resources to support schools are generally limited, so the resources cannot be upgraded as necessary. Manufacturers have the option to exit the business or increase the budget so they can produce what they intend.