Standardization is the buzz word in the current education system. The curriculum which is taught to the students is standardized, the way that curriculum is taught to them is standardized, the tests given to the students are standardized, and the remedial actions taken when the students do not do well on the standardized tests are standardized. While this standardization is clearly visible in K-12 where students are required to take a standardized test at the end of each grade level, the higher education is also not untouched by standardization. College courses are designed around learning outcomes which the students are expected to achieve by end of the semester. These learning outcomes are then measured through tests and assignments through the semester. These tests and assignments are standardized in that they are the same for all the students in the class.
Any kind of standardization ignores the fact that each student in a classroom is unique and different from another student. Each of the students has different aspirations and comes from a different social and cultural background. Each student has a different way of leaning and a unique way of demonstrating their learning. A standardized way of teaching and evaluating students’ learning might not be relevant to each student. As a result, some students might not find what they are learning in class to be useful. This, in turn, kills their curiosity to learn by engaging with the course material. They instead become passive receivers of knowledge and find the process of learning boring and disengaging.
As a result of this, the only motivating factor which students see in a course is the grade which they get at the end of the semester. Hence, they turn all their attention to getting a better grade instead of critically engaging with the learning material. This is where they start mindlessly engaging in the process of learning. Mindless learning is characterized by low attention to the context of learning, lack of alertness to distinctions, and ignorance of multiple perspectives. Paying low attention to learning contexts might lead to a non-understanding of the context, which in turn hinders the process of transfer of learning from classroom to the real world. A lack of alertness to nuances might lead to misconceptions in the minds of the learner. Misconceptions further hinder students’ learning. Ignorance of multiple perspective prevents a well-rounded development of a student.
To realize the full potential of education, standardized learning environments should be replaced with customized ones which cater to the needs of each student and help them engage in mindful learning.