FTF Tuesday: Competency vs Mastery

From the Files Tuesday
It is the 'classic' battle of the educratic words.. competency vs. mastery.
It is the ‘classic’ battle of the educratic words..
competency vs. master

First up, The ‘file’:

I’m focusing today on a ‘file’ that’s full of so many educratic Common Core/College-Career-Readiness buzz phrases, it could start its on fertilizer patch! If you’ve followed me for long, you know I’m one to look behind the words thrown around meant to impress us with how great CCSS is (and all that goes with it). So, today. we’re getting in the ring with this competency vs. mastery!

The blog article is called “Three Key Characteristics of Competency Based Learning” (see: http://blog.blackboard.com/3-key-characteristics-of-competency-based-learning/) The very first sentence states,Competency based learning empowers learners to focus on mastery of valuable skills and knowledge and learn at their own pace.” In all fairness, the author does tell you to use the lexicon guide to understand what competency based learning is. So, I went there. Guess what? There’s no ONE definitive meaning.

So, here’s a clue..since people are so different and there’s no ONE way to constrict competency based learning, WHY BOTHER?? Maybe I’m being too simple minded, but as an educator, I didn’t (still don’t) have time, luxury, or desire to try to adhere to something that has to fit a mold. I certainly will not force my students to adhere to this system of learning. It’s disaster filled. You want a student who can learn at their own pace, look at how Benjamin Franklin achieved this. He was a self-taught person. Thomas Edison..horrid in a traditional school, fabulous in his own setting. Why those who are funding CCSS and running the education of American won’t look at this kind of REAL learning? It will not fit their agenda. So, instead, they seek to conform, relegate, and belittle those in the classrooms.

Words that Confuse, Round One:

“Mastery”, what does THAT mean? Well, as far as the ‘helpful’ lexicon the author refers you to? You have to download it..Come on..be helpful..show me in the article, don’t tout your project and then send me somewhere else! I have enough downloads now! Below, is the American Policy Center’s definition of ‘Outcome Based Education’ otherwise called, ‘Mastery Learning’:

“OBE is not a curriculum. It is an anti-intellectual, highly politicized, psychological process designed to create students who are accepting of and susceptible to control by selected authorities. Successful OBE programs produce students who reject individual goals and achievements in deference to the needs and goals of a group. Student acceptance of individual competitiveness, parental authority and traditional societal structures are seen as barriers to achieving a successful education process. Assessment tests and national standards are established to determine if a student is accepting the new set of attitudes, values and beliefs.  Concerns for academic achievement are never considered in the OBE process.  LEARNING: a change in behavior which persists. Under the OBE behavior-modification system, a child is said to be learning when assessment tests show that he/she has begun to succumb to and accept the predetermined set of values and outcomes prescribed and preset in the OBE process.   Where once a student answered “white,” but now says “gray,” the OBE process says he/she is beginning to learn. Soon he/she will answer “black” and the education establishment will declare that the student has “mastered” his/her “core subjects,” ready to add to the “Goals 2000″ 90% graduation statistic to prove how the new education process is working.” (if you’d like to read the rest of the article: http://americanpolicy.org/1999/03/29/how-to-understand-the-double-speak-of-the-educrats/)

The Dictionary, Round Two:

When in doubt, turn to the dictionary!! My personal favorite is my old, beat up Random House Collegiate one. (I’ve seen the updated versions; ghastly in their rewritten, modern forms) So, just WHAT does the dictionary say ‘competency’ is? Adequate, sufficient; certain minimum requirements of age, soundness of mind, citizenship, and the like.”

‘Mastery’, according to the dictionary, “The state of being a master {person with ability, power to use, control or dispose of something}; power of command or control. Command or grasp, as in a subject. Expert skill and knowledge.”

‘Empower’, “To give power or authority. To permit or enable.”

Closing thoughts, Final Round:

Now, go back and apply this to the opening sentence: It should sound something like this:Sufficient,  minimum requirements enable  learners to focus on being a master while complying.”  

From this context, the rest of article is a mass of mixed messages. Very few true masters of anything were minimal. Take DaVinci, he was 24/7, full throttle..wide open. Now, imagine someone like him under the constraints of Competency Based Learning. He’d probably be out the door (if not dead) in less than a week. Filter the rest of the article with this in mind. Especially when you get to all the practical, buy-in, everyone wins part.

When did education become so much about ‘buy ins’, ‘leverage’, ‘lowering’, and collective? Those who support the Common Core, seem to be wholeheartedly behind this OBE, Competency based learning.  Look, at not just this article, but others like it. Talk is big about how great it all is, the students can learn SO much..and at their own pace. If you’ve not seen the pattern yet, there’s not much time, desire, or energy left for ‘individualized learning’ in this model.

You either want a student to succeed at his or her best or you don’t. You cannot have a student be both competent based AND mastery based. It’s either setting the bar too low or teasing them. To be competent, you only have to meet the standard, to be an master takes years of hard work. Look at any expert down through the ages..they weren’t awarded ‘mastery’, they toiled for it. Common Core will not give us real masters in education. If it did, why are the Standards written by those who are competent in education? No real expert or master of education stands behind them! You want sub-standards in education, CCSS gives you some ‘bang up’ models then! You want real mastery in education, keep looking..Common Core has set our students up for failing..for just getting by..for minimalist ‘education’ as prescribed by someone else that will not help your student be THEIR own person, nor be THEIR best!


Tongue-in-cheek assessment of Competency Based Learning, The Knock Out Punch:

There’s an old phrase, the educrats seem to have laid aside, “Jack of all trades, master at none.” Who wants to be THAT person? Who wants their students to be THAT person?? I don’t! It’s time to stop the falsehoods, folks. Let’s get back to real education in America.

3 thoughts on “FTF Tuesday: Competency vs Mastery

  1. Great analysis. What was even more ironic to me was the “learn at your own pace,” thing but CCSS does exactly the opposite: everyone must learn the same thing at the same time.

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