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Standardization and the Destruction of Thought and Freedom


Jessica L. Swan

Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership, University of Toledo, Main Campus (MS 921), Toledo, OH, 43606. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


Accountability and quality assurance based on academic content standards and standardized tests have become a driving force in modern education.  When standards are used to narrow educational experience, to define learning in terms of content acquisition, and to prescribe educational outcomes, they develop into mechanisms which act to constrict rather than improve and support learning; they morph into the basis for standardization.  Standardization in education is not conducive to individual development, as standardization, by definition, designates predetermined content standards which define what is to be learned by all students; the use of standardized tests to evaluate student growth and academic progress restricts teaching and learning to a system that encourages multiple-choice thinking.  Critical thinking is not supported or nurtured by the fast-paced, shallow, fact-oriented ways of teaching and learning that occur when teachers are concerned with covering an excessive number of standards and ensuring that students think in ways that are required for successful test-taking (i.e., multiple-choice thinking).  The cumulative result of a standardized system of education is the development of a collective, standardized mind.  This standardized mind equates to the destruction of critical thought, on both the individual and societal level, a process that is antithetical to freedom, innovation, and social transformation.

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Keywords: standardization, educational accountability, standardized testing, academic content standards, critical thinking, scientific management.

Citation: Swan, J. (2017) Standardization and the Destruction of Thought and Freedom. Journal of Pedagogy and Educational Management 1, pp. 84-98