Developmental issues and the assembly line mentality of modern education

Every day, it seems, I come across a new autism resource. (New in the sense that I haven’t seen it, not necessarily ‘new’ new.) I recently found Hidden Recovery, “A parent’s experience with High-Functioning Autism. Diagnosed at 2 with PDD-NOS, and recovered by kindergarten.” I’ve not had a chance to read through the entire site yet, but have come across some interesting things. (I know that some will be put off by the use of the “R” word, but if you can get past that there is some good insight and lessons from past experience that all autism parents can make use of.)

One statement from the home page caught my eye (emphasis mine):

They are unaware of the fact that this is THE NEW GENERATION of typical peers – 33% of the kids on average in a classroom in America have some developmental issue. It is now typical to have all sorts of issues in these classrooms, identified or not.

Thirty three percent have development issues. What exactly does this mean? Is this a reflection on the human gene pool, are things just going to hell? I don’t think so.

I need to do some more research on this, and anything readers can point me to would be highly appreciated: It seems to me that the problem isn’t that the kids are developing any differently in general, but that our (by this I mean “society’s”) expectations for what kids should do, and be able to do, at certain milestones is changing.

For instance, to graduate high school kids are expected to have a certain level of knowledge. At least that’s how it used to be. More recently, to graduate high school kids are required to successfully complete a certain number of required and elective courses. (This doesn’t necessarily equate to knowledge of those subjects.) College entrance tests such as SAT or ACT kind of measure the knowledge, but are not required for high school graduation.

More recently still, the use of standardized testing has become more prevalent. I think I could go with a test for getting a high school diploma. The problem comes in when you start having these tests at more and more of the intermediate grades. As if every child actually develops along the same timeline!?! As it always seems to, it comes down to the bottom line – $$$$.

Education in the US today (in general) is treated as an assembly line: You’ve got the raw materials (students), the plant (schools), the assembly line workers and supervisors (teachers and administrators), and of course the managers (school board and other government). The line workers and supervisors are interested in producing the highest quality product they can while managers expect maximum productivity at maximum efficiency. The only way to prove you are doing this is to have metrics at the end of a production period that you can look at and use to adjust for the next production period, and the shorter the production period the more quickly you can adjust for problems.

Obviously – at least to me – this isn’t a reasonable way to approach the education of the world’s future, autistic or not.

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