Uniformity is often seen as a negative thing in our society, especially in the views of teenagers. Most young people flee from uniformity as if it were a plague; however, in their rush to escape, those same teens find themselves in a new uniformity with other teens like them. It seems there is no escape.
I don’t see it as such a negative thing. If it weren’t for Whitney making parts interchangeable by making them uniform in size, shape, etc., we would still be assembling machines one machine at a time. And thank goodness for Henry Ford’s assembly line which greatly cut the amount of time assembling a machine.
Our problems seem to stem from bureaucratic laws demanding uniformity in all states when a new law is passed. My husband always says, “Common sense is not issued with the new bureaucratic regulations.” Uniformity without common sense may be one of our biggest problems in the world today.
I saw the problems of teaching all students in a uniform pattern early in my career. It just isn’t possible. I always liked the illustration one of my professors gave to us. “In science class you mix yellow paint with blue paint at the front of the classroom where everyone can see it. True or false…the students will all see green paint.” The answer is false because Johnny may have been staring out the window, Julie was looking for her pencil, and Fred was asleep. Every situation in life, every experience a person has is tainted with trappings. Past experiences, emotions, beliefs, etc. color one’s experience of the moment. A good teacher finds ways to reach each student’s learning needs; often through trial and error. But a good teacher always tries.
I expect uniformity in handwriting from my first grade students. I don’t fail them if their letters aren’t exactly the way I make them, or the way the book makes them. I do, however, expect the child to develop a uniform handwriting script which can be read by others. What purpose would there be to record our thoughts if no one else could read what we have recorded? If I expect consistency and uniformity in their writing in first grade, the teacher of higher grades will not have to repeat the process. Motor memory will kick into play. The same can be said about memorizing the addition and multiplication facts. If a child really learns them when h/she is young, they will remain for life.
There do come times when it is necessary for someone to “step out of the box” or to be a “challenger” to uniformity which is harmful or stagnating. Almost all innovations come with an uneasy feeling about letting go of “how things are.” The people who take on this challenge are the true pioneers of our history. Oh yes, there are many people who just challenge and choose not to conform with the norm. However, the true pioneers usually have a better plan ready. Gifted children will cry and challenge every chance they are given to do it “my way.” However, asking them for their replacement plan may cause them to stop and ponder the situation before jumping in with both feet.
I also like what the Exploravision science competition requires of students. They must state the positive and the negative effects their innovation could bring. It does give one reason to pause and consider.