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Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

03.26.17Low Standards are Everywhere

My son turns 16 in about 6 weeks, which, as any parent will tell you, means he’s eligible for his learner’s permit. He’s gona be a driver.  Over breakfast this morning we were chatting away about this looming event.

‘Everyone says you just need to read the manual for about an hour or two the night before and you’re fine,” Young Lemov says to me of the test. “I mean, you only need a 70 to pass.”

I almost chocked on my oatmeal.  I want you to think about that. The policy is: any 16 year old in New York State can drive several tons of steel around at speeds sufficient to kill other citizens if they understand 70 percent of the laws pertaining to motor vehicle operation.  And this includes the stupid and obvious questions–about 50%–that a Kindergartener could get right.

70%. You just need to know a few rules to get started driving here in New York, kids! Choose the ones that are best for you.

God, no wonder our roads are full of drivers endangering your family and mine.

2 Responses to “Low Standards are Everywhere”

  1. Peter Meyer
    April 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    The disconnect between verbal skills and manual skills is everywhere. Remember the debate about
    PE? You didn’t have to actually do physical exercise; you could take a written test. Then there’s the system syndrome: if you write a memo, it will happen. I call journalism, my field, the intellectual contact sport: you have to know how to push and shove and think and talk all at the same time!

  2. Nick
    April 4, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    The article makes a great point.
    We do seem to look at training through a weird lens.
    We are ready to blame it when things aren’t going well, or perhaps when training isn’t even the right solution.
    When budgets are being cut, training seems to get more than it’s fair share of time on the chopping block.
    Then on the other side… we are also ready to approach learning with the “I mean, you only need a 70 to pass.” attitude as well.


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