Posted by: darcymullin | July 13, 2011

(Double) Standards

In education we talk a lot about standards…it is one of those polarizing words where context matters.

As educators we need to expect high standards from our students.  High standards are great – it’s the double standards that we need to reflect on.

Some classic double standards that I have been responsible for at one time or another:

  • Penalizing late work (say 10% a day).  I sure didn’t add 10% for every day work was late getting back to students.
  • Getting frustrated with students for talking, doodling etc. during instruction.  I would hate to be called out during staff meetings or Pro D.  Backchannel anyone?
  • Assessing kids on their practice.  My handicap isn’t measured by how I hit the ball at the range or practice green? (Too bad, cause I hit it straight and long there 😉
  • Assigning homework for the sake of it, not accounting for whether or not the student has mastered or is struggling with a concept.  How would I like it if the students made me countless pages of multiplication tables for the sake of it?  Or better yet, figure out advanced calculus that is beyond my reach?
  • Not allowing student the opportunity to re-do summative assessments (projects/tests), because they should have learned it the first time.  Yep, I would have loved it if I had to hitch hike to work because I failed my driving test as a 16 year old.
  • Getting angry with kids for being late.  We have all been late for appointments, meetings, class.

When any of these behaviours become chronic, that is cause for concern, but not in a punitive way.  We need to look at the antecedents of behaviour.

Why is work not getting done?

Why is the student disengaged?

Why are they always late?

Maybe it is us that needs to change and push ourselves to a higher standard, thus being more accountable for the students we teach.

Thankfully, these practices are no longer in my repertoire, but I am far from perfect.

How has your practice changed?  What double standards have you seen or used.  I would love to hear about it.



  1. Thanks Darcy. I am still searching for the one educator who has never been late to a staff meeting. Or my personal favorite “No food or drink in class” while walking in with a steaming mug. Often our defense of the double standard is to prepare students for the “real world” where they will need to live with these exceptions. I don’t buy that one either.

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